Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender
In 2013, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 was amended to introduce new protections from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in many areas of public life.
These legal protections are complemented by the Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender, which commenced in July 2013. The guidelines recognise that individuals may identify as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth, or may not identify as exclusively male or female, and that this should be reflected in records held by the government. The guidelines also standardise the evidence required for a person to change their sex/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 commenced on 1 July 2013, and Australian Government departments and agencies were expected to have progressively aligned their existing and future business practices with the guidelines by 1 July 2016.
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Frequently asked questions
The guidelines help people who are transgender, intersex and gender-diverse to ensure their Australian Government records accurately reflect their sex and/or gender. 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.
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