I received my new passport today, having followed the guidelines written up at the National Committee for Transgender Equality (NCTE) website. It’s worth noting that these procedures cannot be found at the passport office’s website, http://travel.state.gov/passport/, so if you’re not using trans-friendly resources, I don’t know how trans* folk are supposed to submit the proper paperwork.
So I sent a cover letter in case the clerk working on my application didn’t understand:
Following the guidelines published by the NCTE (National Committee for Transgender Equality), which detail the somewhat unwritten rules of your office regarding passports for transgender people, I’m sending your office my paperwork to get a new passport with my new name and sex. I enclose the following:
- Form DS-82
- re-issued state birth certificate
- driver’s license
- notarized letter from my surgeon
- certified copy of the court order granting name and gender change
- current passport
- 2 passport photographs
- check for $75
Please reissue my passport using my new image, new name, and new sex. If I am missing any documentation, I trust you’ll contact me.
I felt it was utterly critical to have a new passport — even though I could get a new name and a new photo, but there is no way to change the gender marker without a surgeon’s letter. And I cannot fathom traveling around the world looking the way I do with an “M” on my passport. I know the government wants good, positive identification, and I don’t have any problems with that general philosophy, but no one knows what’s in any traveler’s pants, and in this respect, the requirement to show a surgeon’s letter is a little like the crazy bathroom rules that propose some sort of genital police.The best thing about the passport incident was that I got a really good photograph for the new passport, and that is something that simply doesn’t happen to me very often. :)