Just this week, the Australia’s Supreme Court ruled that trans people don’t need surgery for changing identity documents. From the National Center for Transgender Equality’s (NCTE’s) blog Advancing Transgender Equality:

Australia’s highest court ruled today [Thursday, October 6, 2011] that transgender people can legally change their gender without undergoing surgery, at least in some Australian states. The case was brought by two transgender men, both of whom have had undergone hormone therapy and top surgery. Western Australia’s Gender Reassignment Board refused to issue them recognition certificates, which would allow them to obtain new birth certificates and change their gender marker in other government records, because both still had typically female reproductive organs.

Legislation in the state of Western Australia permits legal gender change where, among other requirements, an individual “has adopted the lifestyle and has the gender characteristics of a person of the gender to which the person has been reassigned.” The High Court interpreted “gender characteristics” broadly to include a person’s appearance and behavior. Legal recognition of the gender in which a person lives in society, the Court said, did not require “detailed knowledge of their bodily state,” or that a person take “all possible steps…to become as male or female as possible.” The Court emphasized the purpose of the legislation, which was to “alleviate that suffering and the discrimination which [transgender] persons may face by providing legal recognition of the person’s perception of their gender.” While the state’s law did require some form of transition-related medical treatment, the Court concluded that such treatment did not have to be surgical and could include hormone therapy.

The full text of the Australian court ruling is here.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Australia provided a third option for sex markers on their passports: M, F, and X. From the International Business News, Australia‘s Australia’s Passport Introduces ‘X’ Gender Category:

Australians who are neither male nor female can categorize their gender as “x” in their passports as the government has made the option official in the document.

The new passport feature is for the benefit of people who have trouble when going abroad because their appearance does not match their gender, according to Senator Louise Pratt.

“It’s a really important recognition of people’s human rights that if they choose to have their sex as ‘indeterminate’, they can,” Dailymail.com quoted her as saying.

Pratt, whose partner was born female but now lives as a man, acknowledged that there are people with genetically ambiguous gender but were arbitrarily assigned the “male” or “female” sex at birth…

Focus On The Family, through its political action group CitizenLink, has expressed dislike of the “X” option, as well as trans people in general, in their piece by Jeff Johnston, entitled Sex: M, F, or X? (emphasis added):

…When an infant is born with ambiguous or mixed sexual organs, the condition is commonly known as “intersexuality.” The medical community also calls these rare physiological anomalies “Disorders of Sex Development” or “Congenital Anomalies of the Reproductive Tract.” Not a common medical condition; one doctor estimates that about 56,000 individuals in the US are intersex, about 0.018 percent of the population.

But Transgender activists use the anomalies of intersexual people to further their own agenda. Those with Disorders of Sex Development may display a combination of the two sexes, but they are not a distinct, third sex. They do not demonstrate that there are an infinite number of genders.

Congenital medical conditions are a sad result of The Fall, when sin entered the world. Intersex individuals are deserving of our love, respect and compassion. Typically their parents raise them as male or female, and most intersex individuals remain identified with the sex they were raised.

Transgenderism, or Gender Identity Disorder, on the other hand, is not usually caused by a physical problem, but is a spiritual, psychological and emotional problem…

Well, “one doctor estimates that about 56,000 individuals in the US are intersex,” but the Organisation Internationale des Intersexués (OII) estimates up to 5 % of the population & probably more, depending on the definition. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) states “If you ask experts at medical centers how often a child is born so noticeably atypical in terms of genitalia that a specialist in sex differentiation is called in, the number comes out to about 1 in 1500 to 1 in 2000 births.” I’d trust OII’s or ISNA’s estimates over CitizenLink‘s quoted estimate of “one doctor.”

But, the “one doctor” doesn’t say what Johnston stated the “one doctor” said. The article that Johnston referenced in his CitizenLink piece indicated that “[Dr. Anne] Fausto-Sterling asserts that 1.7% of human births are intersex.” I believe simple math indicates that even that one doctor‘s estimate that 1.7% of the population is intersex would mean that more than “56,000 individuals” of the approximately 330,000,000 people in the United States are intersex. But, math is kinda like science, y’know? And we all know how much those on the religious right like science — and more seriously, their propensity to misstate and/or twist the conclusions of secular scientific studies.

And speaking of science, the Johnston statement of “Congenital medical conditions are a sad result of The Fall” is phrased as a fact statement — it’s not phrased as an opinion statement. What he’s referring to is his belief that the Adam and Eve literally fell into sin upon disobeying God and eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life. Literally.

So how is Jeff Johnston an expert on intersex and trans issues? Well, besides being the Gender Issues Analyst for CitizenLink, he’s apparently an ex-gay. Johnston “served as a director on the boards of Exodus International and PFOX, ministries dedicated to providing resources and support for churches, ministries and men and women who experience same-sex attraction. In addition, Johnston served as executive director of Exodus-member ministries in Baltimore and San Diego, in which he helped men and women overcome same-sex attractions.”

Super. He’s a former homosexual who believes his status as a religious right Christian who had “unwanted same-sex attractions and sexual addiction,” his job title at Focus On The Family’s CitizenLink, and his bachelor degree from San Diego State University make him an expert on trans and intersex issues. Literally.

Well, good on Australia for their recent progress on community issues. We can all thank the gawds that Johnston isn’t the Emperor of Australia and deciding how the government of Australia treats trans and intersex people.