Looking for transgender passport help? There are so many things to worry about during and after a gender transition. Getting a passport shouldn’t be one of them.
Fortunately, changing the gender on your passport is relatively simple. But there are still a few extra steps to ensure your passport application is processed quickly and correctly.
With that in mind, here’s a detailed guide to transgender passport issues, including changing the gender on your passport and getting a passport after a gender transition.
How to Get a New Passport After a Gender Transition
If you don’t currently have a passport, you’ll need to apply in person. Submit your application at a post office or another acceptance facility.
You’ll need the following documents:
- An ID (preferably a driver’s license or other government-issued ID) that reflects your current appearance. Your ID does not have to have the right gender on it. If you’ve changed your name, it can also show your old name as long as you have legal proof of the name change.
- Proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship. You do not have to have the gender corrected on your proof of citizenship before applying for a passport, either.
- If you’ve changed your name, you’ll need a copy of the court order for the name change.
- A medical certification from your doctor stating that you have received, or are in the process of receiving, “appropriate clinical treatment” to transition to the updated gender. More on this here.
- One passport photo, taken within the past 6 months, that reflects your current appearance.
- The appropriate passport fees.
That’s it! Now all you have to do is wait.
Transgender Passport Help: How to Get a Passport Renewal
What if you already have a US passport? Can you renew your passport by mail after a gender transition?
Possibly, but only if you’ve already updated your gender on your current passport. If you already have a passport but you still need to update the gender, you cannot renew by mail even if you meet all of the other requirements.
You’re eligible to renew by mail if all of the following are true:
- Your current passport is a fully valid, 10-year passport. If you were issued a 2-year passport during your transition, see the instructions for replacing limited validity 2-year passports.
- The passport you’re replacing has the correct gender.
- Your passport has not been lost, stolen or damaged.
- It was issued in your current name, or you have legal documentation to support your name change request.
- Your passport was issued no more than 15 years ago.
Do all of the above statements apply to you? See How to Renew Your Passport for instructions. Otherwise, follow the instructions above.
What Kind of Medical Treatment is Required to Change the Gender on Your Passport?
Are you wondering what type of medical treatment you need before changing the gender on your passport? Prior to 2010, you couldn’t get an updated passport without undergoing sex reassignment surgery. That was a problem because many transgender people choose not to have the surgery. Yet, they still needed their travel documents to reflect the right gender.
Fortunately, surgery is no longer required. “Appropriate treatment” is now between you and your doctor. That means you can design a treatment plan that’s right for you.
If your doctor states that you’re still “in the process of” transitioning, you’ll receive a limited validity, 2-year passport with your updated gender. And if your doctor agrees your transition is complete, your new passport will be valid for the standard 10 years.
All About the Physician’s Letter
Want to avoid processing delays? Double-check your doctor’s note! It must meet the following State Department requirements:
- The letter must be printed on the doctor’s office letterhead.
- It must come from a licensed physician whom you have a doctor-patient relationship with.
- It has to include both the doctor’s medical license or certificate number and the state or organization which issued the license.
- The letter must state that the doctor in question has a doctor/patient relationship with you, has treated you or has reviewed and evaluated your medical history, and confirms that you either ” have had, or are in process of having, appropriate clinical treatment for transition to the updated gender.”
- It must include the following statement: “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the forgoing is true and correct.”
To make things easy for your doctor, you can download a template for his or her office to use here.
Note: If your doctor’s note says you “are in the process of having” treatment, you will only be issued a limited validity, 2-year passport that you can replace with a full-term passport once treatment is complete.
That said, the course of treatment is between you and your doctor. Surgery is no longer required. So, some transgender rights groups, like the National Center for Transgender Equality, argue that “there is no reason for a transgender person to apply for the limited passport.”
Replacing a Limited Validity Passport After a Gender Transition
But what if you DO get a 2-year passport? Fortunately, once you and your physician decide your treatment is complete, it’s a fairly simple (and FREE) process to replace your limited-validity passport with the full 10-year model.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Form DS-5504
- Your unexpired 2-year passport
- A current photo AND
- A new physician’s letter confirming that you have completed treatment.
How to Get a Passport in a Hurry
If you’ve taken steps to transition and you’re planning an international trip, you probably don’t need me to tell you how important it is that your passport reflects your correct gender.
So, here’s the good news. As long as you have all the right documents, it shouldn’t take any longer than usual to get your new passport. But you should still plan ahead! Regular processing currently takes 6-8 weeks. If you expedite at the post office for an extra $60, you can cut that down to 2-3 weeks.
But what if that’s not soon enough?
If you need your passport in less than 2 weeks, you have two options. First, you can make an appointment at one of the Department of State’s 26 Regional Passport Agencies. To find out if there’s one close to you, see How to Find the Nearest Passport Agency Near You.
Can’t make it to an agency? Just don’t want the hassle? You can also use a private expediting service like RushMyPassport. For an additional fee, you can skip the line at the Passport Agency and get personalized assistance from our team of passport specialists.
If you’re in a hurry, check out our passport services and feel free to give us a call with any questions.
Happy Pride Month from the RushMyPassport team!