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Australia to issue passports for males, females and... X

X marks the spot in anti-discrimination effort

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Australians will be allowed to mark X as their gender on passports in a move to help curb discrimination against transgendered and intersex people.

Although gay marriage remains outlawed in Down Under, its government has taken uncharacteristically liberal steps so that individuals can declare their preferred gender when applying for a passport.

Intersex people - those who are not exclusively male or female biologically - will be able to list their gender on passports as X.

And although transgendered people - whose perception of their own sex is at odds with their biology - will be able to pick whether they are male or female if their choice is supported by a doctor's statement, they will not be able pick X.

Previously, sex reassignment surgery was required for transgendered people to apply for a passport in their preferred gender. The US also dropped the surgery prerequisite for transgendered people's passports last year.

"Sex and gender-diverse people now have the option of presenting a statement from a medical practitioner supporting their preferred gender," said Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

"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," he added.

Any country that has come into line with the International Civil Aviation Organization's specifications for machine-readable passports can choose to introduce X as a gender. ®

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