Australian passports will carry a new gender category beyond male and female with the indeterminate or X category being introduced in an effort to curb discrimination against transgender and intersex people.
Intersex individuals, who do not identify as completely male or female biologically, can now legally list their gender as "X" but people whose biological gender doesn't fit the way they see themselves, will not be allowed to tick "X," but will be able to choose whether they are male or female, if backed by a doctor's statement explaining they have started their transition phase.
The move has been praised as a massive step forward by Australian senator, Louise Pratt whose partner was born female and is now identified as a man.
"There have been very many cases of people being detained at airports by immigration in foreign countries simply because their passports don't reflect what they look like," she told Australian radio.
"It's very distressing, highly inconvenient and frankly sometimes dangerous."
Kevin Rudd, Australia's foreign minister, also said: "This amendment makes life easier and significantly reduces the administrative burden for sex and gender diverse people who want a passport that reflects their gender and physical appearance."
Peter Hyndal, who worked, on behalf of human rights advocacy group A Gender Agenda, with the Australian government on the reforms, said "It's amazingly positive," he said. "It's the biggest single piece of law reform related to transgender and intersex issues at a commonwealth level ever in this country - mind-blowing."
The move has been welcomed by activists who point out that the Australian new reform puts the country ahead of Canada or the U.S. where passports permit gender changes but do not have an X category.