Recognition of non-binary gender identities in law and other paperwork is an important issue confronting modern society. This also deals with policies about transgender people in general and related policies about intersex people. Recognition here means whether an organization acknowledges that such people exist and have valid identities, and the organization does this by routinely giving them a place where they aren't forced into being wrongly categorized as a gender that doesn't match their gender identity. In the case of recognition of nonbinary people, this means the system doesn't force them to wrongly say they are one of the binary genders (female or male). Through networking and activism, people can find out which organisations acknowledge non-binary genders, and can ask for acknowledgement from organisations that still need to do so.
For international recognition on the Internet, see websites and social networks.
Recognition worldwide[edit | edit source]
One international problem is that all passports and other identity documents list gender (they are usually called "sex"), and most countries require that gender to be either female or male. A few countries allow passports to have a nonbinary gender marker, called X (unspecified or X-gender), T (transgender or third gender), E (eunuch), I (intersex) or O (other), depending on the country. Having a nonbinary marker on one's passport can make it impossible to travel to a country whose passports don't give that option.
Another global problem for transgender rights is that many countries require too much of a transgender person in order to allow them to have a legal transition. Many countries require proof of surgery in order to do this. Many countries even require transgender people to go through bottom surgeries that would effectively sterilize them in order to transition. International law calls compulsory sterilization a crime against humanity, but it is still the law in many countries.
In the table below, countries are listed in alphabetical order. To make them easier to skim, they use a colour code based on traffic lights:
- Blue (#9FF) means it's friendly to nonbinary people. This can mean it allows unspecified gender options.
- Yellow (#FFB) means it's somewhat friendly to nonbinary people. This can mean it plans to become friendly to nonbinary people. Or it can mean the country is divided on giving nonbinary people their rights, but leaning toward acceptance.
- Red (#F99) means it's not friendly at all to nonbinary people.
- White or blank background means we don't have information about this yet, or it's difficult to call whether it's more good or bad for nonbinary people.
|Country||Nonbinary markers allowed on passports or other identity documents?||Legal gender change requirements||Other notes on transgender, nonbinary, and intersex rights, recognition, and government views|
|Australia||Starting in 2000, Australia allows nonbinary and intersex people to get passports with the nonbinary gender marker "X (indeterminate/unspecified/intersex)," requiring only a letter from a doctor, not proof of surgery. Can change birth certificate to "sex: not specified."||Can change birth certificate, including to a nonbinary option, "sex: not specified," if the person has had a "sex affirmation procedure". However, people have to be unmarried at the time of the change.||"The Australian Government recognises that individuals may identify and be recognised within the community as a gender other than the sex they were assigned at birth or during infancy, or as a gender which is not exclusively male or female. This should be recognised and reflected in their personal records held by Australian Government departments and agencies."|
|Austria||The first passport with an "X" as a gender marker was issued on May 14, 2019 to the intersex activist Alex Jürgen, thanks to the country's constitutional court, who ruled that citizens have the right to have their gender identity accurately represented in their official documents.||Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition. As for the civil registry, the term "divers" can be used as long as the person can provide a document certifying their intersex status.||It is possible to change to an ambiguous name. However, there are high fees for a name change unless one can prove to have a reason that is approved by the state. A name that doesn't correspond to the legal gender can also be chosen, but only as a second or third name - the name that is listed first has to correspond to the legal gender or be ambiguous.|
|Argentina||Identity documents can be issued without a gender marker at all thanks to the Gender Identity Law, passed in 2012. In November 2018, two nonbinary people were able to make this change without a judicial procedure for the first time.||Argentina allows transgender people to get access to legal and medical resources they need to transition, without requiring these things in order to be legally recognized as their gender. They can change their legal gender based on their written declaration, without even a diagnosis. See Argentina's Gender Identity Law as of 2012 here. While this law is said to be the most progressive transgender law in the world, it doesn't directly mention intersex or nonbinary people.|
|Armenia||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Azerbaijan||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Bangladesh||In 2011, started to allow passports to show a gender called "other".|
|Belarus||Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Belgium||Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.||The government publishes vacancy notes with the mention "M/F/X". Anti-discrimination legislation covers gender identity and expression. |
|Bolivia||Since August 2016, transgender people in Bolivia can change their legal gender as long as they are over 18 years old, pass a psychological test and write a letter of application.|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Bulgaria||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Cambodia||Some Cambodian families abuse, burn, or torture transgender children. They are sometimes believed to be possessed.|
|Canada||As of June 2019, Canada allows for "X" in the sex field of immigration documents including passports and proof of citizenship certificates . Some provinces allow-- or plan to soon allow-- hidden or "X" markers on identity documents such as birth certificates and driver's licenses; see Recognition (Canada) for the latest details on which.||Requirements vary from province to province. Generally minimally medical intervention is required. Explicit anti-discrimination protections for transgender people only in Alberta, Northwest Territories, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario, implicit elsewhere.|
|Colombia||Since 2015, transgender persons can change their legal gender and name manifesting their solemn will before a notar, no surgeries or judicial order required.|
|Croatia||Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Czech Republic||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Denmark||Denmark allows people to get passports with the gender marker X.||Since 2014, no longer requires sterilization, gender identity disorder diagnosis, or ending a marriage in order to change legal sex. Requires applicants to be over 18, and to wait six months after applying before legal sex change takes effect.||Danish law includes protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Danish law includes hate crimes legislation, which adds extra penalties for crimes committed against people because of their sexuality and for their gender identity or form of gender expression.|
|Estonia||Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Finland||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|France||M or F only. In 2015, for the first time, France allowed an intersex adult to change their birth certificate to "gender neutral".||Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition. Doesn't require a note from a doctor or medical intervention, but does not use self-certification alone |
|Georgia (country)||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Germany||Since December 2018, German citizens can apply for a third gender marker as long as they provide a note from their doctor. Although the law was initially passed for intersex people, some perisex nonbinary people have managed to get a third gender marker too by getting a note from a trusted doctor. ||In 2011, Germany stopped requiring transgender people to be coercively sterilized in order to transition.||The coalition agreement for the current federal government provides for legislation clarifying that surgery on intersex children is only allowed in cases that are urgent and involve a lethal health threat.  Some nonbinary people have legally adopted neutral names, arguing the TSG ("law on transsexuals") does not apply to them.|
|Greece||Greece allows transgender people to change their gender markers if their gender expression matches their gender identity.|
|India||India recognises transgender people as a third gender. Additionally, hijras are also recognised as a third gender.|
|Ireland||M or F only.||In 2015, Ireland passed a law allowing transgender adults to legally transition to either female or male only, without a requirement of medical intervention. Intersex and nonbinary people and minors are still left out. Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Iceland||Options are male, female, nonbinary, other, and the option to decline to answer.||Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.||In June 2019, the Icelandic Parliament voted unanimously on a bill to implement a "self-determination gender change model law", including an "X" marker on identity documents. It was implemented in January 2021.|
|Italy||Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Japan||Japan made legal transition possible in 2004. In order to get one, Japan requires that a transgender person must be unmarried, has never had children, has had genital surgery, and has been sterilized.|
|Kenya||In 2015, activists in Kenya are still working for the introduction of another gender option on official forms for people who don't identify as female or male, who may be intersex or transgender.|
|Latvia||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Lithuania||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Malaysia||Malaysia has no legislation for changing a legal sex, and instead deals with this on a case-by-case basis.|
|Malta||Since September 2017, Malta can issue official identity documents with X as a gender marker. On January 2018, Malta released the first passport with an 'X' as a gender marker.||The only requirement for a neutral gender marker is an oath in front of a notary.|
|Montenegro||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Nepal||Allows passports to use a third gender marker, called "other", which includes all transgender and nonbinary people.|
|Netherlands||Doesn't require transgender people to be sterilized or any kind of therapy in order to have legal gender recognition, but it requires a diagnosis.||In 2018 Leonne Zeegers was the first Dutch citizen to receive a passport with gender marker "X". Leonne does have an intersex condition but the judge ruled in their favor based on their gender, which is nonbinary. In October 2019, Nanoah Struik was the second adult citizen to get an X on their passport. Nanoah doesn't have an intersex condition so this makes them the first person to have that gender marker without having an intersex condition.|
|New Zealand||Allows passports to use a nonbinary gender option, X. You can change it simply by applying for it.||Since 1995, in order to change the gender on your birth certificate, you need to show that you wish to live in your intended gender, and that you have undergone "medical treatment" for it. You can change your driver's license simply by applying for it.||New Zealand allows asylum seekers or refugees who face harm on the basis of "gender" and "identity". In the New Zealand refugee confirmation form, the options for gender are "Male", "Female", and "Other (specify)" which is a write-in field.|
|Norway||A nonbinary gender option for passports was advocated by some members of the Norwegian Labour Party in 2017.||People over 16 can change their legal gender without any kind of diagnosis or treatment. Minors between 6 and 16 years old need their parents' permission.|
|Pakistan||Pakistan legally recognises hijras and eunuchs, even though transgender topics are generally taboo.|
|Philippines||This country doesn't allow transgender people to change their legal sex, but made an exception for an intersex person.|
|Poland||Transgender people must undergo sex reassignment surgery before changing their legal gender.|
|Portugal||Transgender people can change their legal gender without any requirements. Minors who are 16 or 17 years old need their parents' permission and a favorable opinion from a psychologist.|
|Romania||Requires transgender people to undergo sex reassignment surgery in order to have legal gender recognition. Genital surgery is required in order to change legal sex. Allowed to marry in accordance with new legal sex.|
|Russia||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Serbia||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Slovakia||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|Slovenia||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition.|
|South Africa||Since 2003, legal gender can be changed after medical treatment. Hormone therapy is seen as enough, surgery isn't required.||Anti-discrimination laws are interpreted to include gender identity.|
|South Korea||While the Supreme Court declared that transgender people need to undergo SRS in order to change their legal gender, in 2013 a court ruled that five transgender people could make the change without a surgery, and the same happened in 2017.|
|Spain||All transgender people may change their legal gender without a surgery, including minors.|
|Sweden||In 2012, Sweden stopped requiring transgender people to be coercively sterilized in order to transition, and in 2014, stopped requiring a mental health diagnosis in order to get legal gender recognition.|
|Switzerland||Requires transgender people to be sterilized in order to have legal gender recognition. However, a process to allow a legal gender changes without medical intervention in under public consultation. A proposal to add a third "X" gender marker is also under discussion.|
|Turkey||Requires transgender people to have surgery for legal gender recognition.|
|United Kingdom (UK)||As of 2015, some politicians are working to introduce passports with an option for an X gender marker. In 2015, the Ministry of Justice refused to allow a nonbinary legal gender.||In order to legally transition, you're first required to have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and to have lived as your gender for two years, but you're not required to have had surgery.||In 2015, the Ministry of Justice stated that, unlike binary trans people, nonbinary people aren't protected under equality law. In the UK, most kinds of paperwork and ID show a person's title, which is the main place where gender shows on those documents. Recognition of the gender-neutral title "Mx" is coming to be widespread.|
|United States of America (USA)||Some states allow a third gender marked on official documents such as birth certificates or driving licenses. As for the federal government, the State Department announced in June 2021 that "The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons" for passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA). A government employee stated that the new gender marker would be available by the end of 2021.||Each state has different laws regarding legal transition. Most states require proof of surgery in order to legally transition, and the rest require a letter from a doctor saying you've had some kind of transition.
As for passports, "You do not need to provide a medical certification or physician's letter, even if the gender you select on Form DS-11 does not match the gender on your previous passport or other documents."
|In the USA, documents and ID rarely show a person's title.|
|Vietnam||Forces transgender people to go through surgery in order to transition. Before late 2015, transgender people could not change their gender markers.|
See also[edit | edit source]
- Practical resources
- Charities and groups that benefit gender variant people
- Attitudes towards nonbinary people by country
[edit | edit source]
- Wikipedia:LGBT rights by country or territory
- Transgender Europe: Toolkit: Legal gender recognition in Europe
- Transgender Europe: Trans Rights Europe Card Game
- Transgender Europe: Trans Rights Europe Map & Index 2016
References[edit | edit source]
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