Gender “X” in The Land Down Under
December 9, 2011
Australia recently began offering a third gender category in addition to male and female on their country’s passports. In addition to “M” for male or “F” for female, people can choose “X.” This change was made to help fight discrimination usually faced by people who are transgender or intersex since they may not identify as male or female.
Although Australia is the only country who offers a third gender category, many countries, like England and the United States offer citizens the option to mark whichever gender they identify as. While it is great that the U.K. and U.S. have adopted policies that allow citizens to choose the gender that they identify as, I feel like these policies don’t compare to what Australia has done. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to explain to immigration or customs officials that although your passport states you are male or female, you do not identify as either, and instead feel that you are something entirely different. These kinds of situations degrade the individual involved and open them up to more discrimination and abuse.
Australia’s third gender category on passports grants intersex and transgender individuals a more comfortable way to identify themselves without having to worry about being forced to select a gender when neither male nor female feels right for them. Gender “X” will also hopefully help spread acceptance of transgender and intersex individuals. If other nations adopted this third gender, people might begin to see it as part of the norm. Hopefully, this will promote an understanding that not everyone identifies as either male or female, and maybe, just maybe, it will help promote a future where we openly recognize that we cannot all be classified into just two genders.