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article imageUS gov't changes laws for transgender passport applicants Special

By Kim I. Hartman     Jun 13, 2010 in World
Washington - The State Department announced new guidelines for issuing passports to transgender applicants. If you bring a note from your doctor that you have undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition you'll be able to get a passport to match.
Beginning June 10, when a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the passport will reflect the new gender.
What if you haven't completed the gender reassignment surgery? No problem says the new guidelines you can obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician's statement shows your in the process of gender transition.
Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance. The guidelines include detailed information about what information the certification must include. No additional medical records are required.
A Consular Report of Birth Abroad can also be amended with the new gender.
The State Department chose the occasion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month to announce its new policy guidelines regarding gender change in passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad and have also established a web page proudly displaying names and faces of public employee celebrating their sexual orientation.
President Obama extended a wider range of benefits to the same-sex partners of eligible federal workers, including access to medical treatment, relocation assistance, credit unions and fitness centers last week. Although that is great leap forward for the federal government more action is still needed. The benefits policy does not include members of the military and their same-sex partners and families.
The gay, lesbian and transgender community is excited about this progressive policy change, while religious groups and extremists are speaking out against the policy proclaiming we're all going to hell because God Hates Gays.
As with all passport applicants, passport issuing officers at embassies and consulates abroad and domestic passport agencies and centers will only ask appropriate questions to obtain information necessary to determine citizenship and identity.
How will this effect people who's identification's do not match?
While this move by the State Department is being hailed by LGBT community it still leaves many questions unanswered said one transgendered man Jamey Wilson, a California resident.
Wilson, who was born in Texas and now lives in California, said many different people are included under the umbrella labeled transgendered. He said in every country but France transgendered people are classified as mentally ill and he asks will this new passport change rules provide the government with a "list" of transgendered men and women that they can say are diagnosed with a mental illness, according to some medical guidelines.
Wilson said although his drivers license says male his birth certificate issued in the state of Texas says female and Texas has no intention of changing their laws to allow transgendered people to change the sex on their birth certificates or their drivers licenses and that isn't the only state that is refusing to catch up with the times and align their laws with the federal laws.
Which means- If a person was traveling abroad with a passport that identifies them as male and a drivers license and birth certificate from the state of Texas, or other state that says female they would be in great risk of being a victim of violence and hate crimes putting their life in jeopardy.
"This is new territory for the federal government" said Jamey Wilson and people of all communities including the GLBT will be watching closely as the changes in the passport status and state laws develop.
Until then each and every time they have to show identification problems will arise unless all states move forward and allow birth records to be changed as well as drivers license and other forms of public identification. This would allow the transgendered community to avoid situations such as this when checking in at airports as well as easing the problems faced by transgendered travelers when planning and selecting travel destinations.
Hilary Clinton issued a Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered Proclamation last week saying "Human rights are the inalienable right of every person, no matter who that person is or who that person loves.
We have made significant progress but we still have challenging work ahead. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face horrific violence and repression around the world. Pride marches are often met with active and armed government resistance.
Laws banning sexual orientation and gender expression undermine civil society, the rule of law, and public health outreach. The persecution and violation of human rights of members of the LGBT community is not only an affront to human dignity, but it also diminishes human progress and potential.
As Secretary of State, I will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The State Department's new passport policy and procedures are based on standards and recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), recognized by the American Medical Association as the authority in this field
More about Transgender, Passports, State, Department, Passport
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