Passport snub ‘unjust’
The Federal Government has refused to issue a post-operative trans woman a female passport on the basis that she is married to a woman.
Grace Abrams last week appealed the decision by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Abrams, who married her long-term partner Fiona Power using her male birth certificate, will have a legally recognised same-sex marriage if she wins the case.
Abrams began a relationship with Power in 2000. Between 2001 and 2005, Abrams underwent the transition to female, officially changing her name to Grace in 2002.
Abrams married Power in 2005, before obtaining an interim passport in her intended sex to undergo gender reassignment surgery in Thailand.
On returning to Australia as a female, Abrams applied to the NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages to register the change of sex. A female birth certificate was refused on the basis she was married.
Shortly after, Abrams armed herself with documentation that proved she was a woman, including medical certificates and statutory declarations, and lodged an application for an amended passport through the Australian Passport Office.
Not only was her valid interim female passport destroyed, Abrams was told she could be issued with a passport in the male gender only. She was later informed she could not be issued with a valid passport in the female gender because she could not provide a birth certificate showing the gender of reassignment.
All Australian citizens, including Abrams, are entitled to a passport if they can prove their identity and citizenship.
Abrams’s lawyer David Shoebridge said if a trans person is not married, the Department of Births Deaths and Marriages would issue a birth certificate in the new gender.
The Minister relied upon the failure of Grace Abrams to provide an amended birth certificate as the reason for refusing her application, he said.
That is purely a policy position taken by the Passport Office and is not founded in any legal requirements.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the government told the Tribunal that Abrams could not be issued with a female passport because she did not have an amended birth certificate. They said the Minister was not satisfied Abrams was a woman.
However, it was acknowledged in the government’s Statement of Facts that the Minister was not bound to the policy.
Abrams said it was not fair to force trans people to choose between having their marriage or post-operative gender recognised.
It is inhuman and unjust, she said.
The verdict will be handed down in about two weeks.