Skip to main content

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.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released its new Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables 2020 in January 2021. The standard can be used by government, academic and private sector organisations in their statistical collections to improve the comparability and quality of data when collecting statistics.

The ABS Standard was informed by the Guidelines but has incorporated more recent developments to appropriate terminology and language.

If you have further questions that are not answered here, please email the Human Rights Branch at

Contact details

Human Rights Branch
Address: 3-5 National Circuit
Barton ACT 2600