Individuals may identify and be recognised within the community as a gender other than the sex or gender they were assigned at birth, as intersex, or as an indeterminate sex and/or gender. This should be recognised and reflected in their personal records.
The Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender standardise the evidence required for a person to establish or change their sex or gender in personal records held by Australian Government departments and agencies.
The guidelines apply to all Australian Government departments and agencies that maintain personal records (including employee records) and/or collect sex and/or gender information. The guidelines commence on 1 July 2013 and Australian Government departments and agencies have three years to implement the new standards.
Frequently asked questions
Why do we need the guidelines?
People who are transgender, intersex and gender-diverse face many issues ensuring their Australian Government records accurately reflect their sex and/or gender. Currently, there are inconsistent approaches to the collection of sex/gender information across government. These inconsistencies can jeopardise the integrity and security of a department’s records and can make it very difficult for transgender and intersex people to interact with the Australian Government and obtain basic services.
Increased consistency in the way the Australian Government collects and records sex and gender information will strengthen Australia’s identity security system, the integrity of agency records and the accuracy of individual personal records. This is in line with the Australian Government’s approach to identity security.
What does transgender and/or intersex mean?
Gender is part of a person’s social and personal identity. It refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual identity, and the way a person presents and is recognised within the community.
A trans or transgender person is someone who identifies as a gender that is different to their sex at birth. People who are transgender are born male or female, but emotionally or psychologically identify as a different sex. People who are transgender may undergo medical and psychological treatment including hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery or other physical procedures.
An intersex person may have the biological attributes of both sexes or lack some of the biological attributes considered necessary to be defined as one or the other sex. Intersex is always congenital and can originate from genetic, chromosomal or hormonal variations. Environmental influences such as endocrine disruptors can also play a role in some intersex differences. People who are intersex may identify their gender as male, female or X.
What are the sex and gender categories under the guidelines?
Where sex and/or gender information is collected and recorded in a personal record, individuals should be given the option to select M (male), F (female) or X (Indeterminate/Intersex/Unspecified).
Are we getting rid of male and female?
No. The categories of male and female are unchanged. There are a small number of people in Australia who fall outside this binary or will change their gender in their lifetime. The guidelines ensure Australian Government records can reflect this.
What evidence of their sex and/or gender do people need to provide?
Australian Government departments and agencies will recognise any one of the following as sufficient evidence of sex and/or gender:
- a statement from a Registered Medical Practitioner or a Registered Psychologist (general registration)
- a valid Australian Government travel document, such as a valid passport, which specifies their preferred gender
- a state or territory birth certificate; or recognised details of a certificate showing a change of gender
Does this mean departments and agencies will no longer collect gender data?
No. Departments and agencies will continue to collect sex and/or gender information to inform service delivery, perform their specific function or to contribute to broader government statistical or administrative purposes—including maintaining sex and/or gender disaggregated data. Where there is a legitimate purpose to collect sex and/or gender information, people should be able to identify as either M, F, or X.