Australian trans passport victory

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A tribunal in Australia has created the country’s first legally recognised same-sex married couple and overturned a government decision about a trans woman’s new passport.

Grace Abrams was refused a female passport by the Foreign Affairs department despite having undergone transition between 2001 and 2005.

She married her partner Fiona Power while still transitioning, and the authorities said that in order to get a new birth certificate and therefore a passport identifying her as female, she would have to divorce.

Ms Abrams went to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) arguing that a birth certificate was required to prove that an applicant for a passport is an Australian citizen, and that other documents verify her gender.

The tribunal agreed, and ordered that she be issued with an Australian passport identifying her as female.

Ms Abrams told SX magazine that others should take advantage of this ruling before the Australian authorities appeal.

“Forcing someone to divorce their spouse so they can get a passport denoting their rightful sex is illegal because the couple would have to commit perjury and lie, saying that the relationship had broken down irretrievably,” she said.

The tribunal ruling makes Ms Abrams and Ms Power the first legally-recognised same-sex married couple in Australia.

In August SX revealed that the Foreign Minister of Australia had reversed a policy whereby trans people could obtain a passport stating their “intended sex.”

The new arrangements were introduced without any consultation and only came to light when a pre-operative trans woman was turned away from the Passport Office in Sydney.

SX reported that Stefanie Imbruglia, a cousin of singer Natalie, attempted to obtain a temporary passport so she could travel to Thailand for gender reassignment surgery.

Passport Office staff treated her disrespectfully, she told the magazine.

“I handed my documentation across to him [and] almost immediately, he referred to me as ‘Sir’, but the first two times, I thought I was just hearing things,” said Ms Imbruglia.

“He then told me that I could not get a passport with the letter ‘F’ – I asked to see where I couldn’t in writing and he went away for about five minutes or so.”

The official then showed her a copy of an internal staff newspaper, which carried a story stating that Foreign Minister Alexander Downer had signed an amendment to passport legislation in May.

From now on, trans people will be issued with a Document of Identity (DOI) confirming they are an Australian citizen and stating their new name but not their sex.

The Australian Foreign Ministry claim they changed the rules to “strengthen the integrity and security of Australian passports.”