State Department Eases Passport Restrictions for Transgender Americans

June 10, 2010
The State Department announced on Wednesday that transgender Americans will no longer be required to undergo gender reassignment surgery in order to change their gender on U.S. passports, The Associated Press reported today. Beginning today, transgender applicants need only supply proof that the individual has “undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” if the person wishes to declare a new gender. "Transgender Americans face extreme danger when traveling abroad in the many countries that are hostile to them. Many also experience harassment when entering and leaving this country.  Adoption of this safety-focused policy is a giant step forward in protecting transgender Americans abroad, and in fulfilling the State Department's commitment to protect all Americans when they travel, work or live overseas," said Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) executive director Michael D. Silverman. According to TLDEF, applicants can also obtain a temporary passport that reflects the person’s lived gender if the person is in the process of transition. Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) praised the new regulations in a statement released on Thursday: “We want to extend our thanks to the Obama Administration, and particularly to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, for understanding the need for this change and then responding to make travel safer for transgender people. This shows how changes in government policy directly impact people’s lives, in this case, for the better.” President of the Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, also celebrated the policy change in a statement released today: “Today’s policy change will allow many more transgender Americans to obtain an important identity document that accurately reflects their true identity and to travel with less fear of discrimination and harassment.  We thank the State Department for taking this important step and congratulate the many organizations that have pushed for this historic change in policy.” GLAAD will continue to follow the media’s coverage of the State Department’s momentous revision to Passport regulations for transgender Americans. For updates, visit