Revised policy on identification documents

Important note: this paper should not be regarded as a guide to our current policy on identification documents. Our approaches have been informed by community-building and evidence-building, and are defined (as of March 2017) in the Darlington Statement. For information on data collection, see our page on forms and surveys.

Identification documents
At our board meeting on 10 November we agreed a slight revision to our policy on personal identification documents, to support more opt in choices.

While sex or gender markers are still required, we believe that adults and consenting minors should be free to choose, and children should be protected from harm.

Ideally, we would prefer that records of sex or gender were not required, just as records stating ethnic or racial origins, or sexual orientation, are not required – yet those identities and categories still exist.

Just as our society resists the inclusion of those identities and categories on birth certificates, we resist the creation of a third sex category for children where anatomical or genetic differences of sex are the required qualification and where only intersex people qualify.

Adults and consenting minors should be free to choose Female, Male and Unspecified categories. These are represented on passports by F, M and X markers. Adults should also be free to choose multiple markers; we have members who are both male and female, according to both their biology and identity.

While adults should have their gender identity recognised, children should continue to receive a male or female classification, without medical intervention, on the understanding that their sex classification can easily change.


Recognition of a person’s sex and their gender identity is fundamental to their dignity.

Intersex is not a gender identity. It is a broad spectrum of biological variations, of possibly around 40 different entities; it is not a neat third box and nor should it be squeezed into one.

Intersex people have just as diverse a range of gender identities as non-intersex people. Most intersex children will turn out to be broadly more comfortable with male or female identities. A third box for children will not provide a more accurate classification.

Children should not be forced to live with the possible consequences of new classifications. They and their families should not be placed into an even more vulnerable situation, forced to disclose their status or stigmatised for their difference. Parents must not be made uncomfortable with their child’s legal status or visibility, as well as their body. Parents should never be put into a position of choosing medical intervention to avoid classification. Intersex children have other, far more pressing, needs.

We resist new classifications of sex or gender that are imposed without the consent of those classified.

How this differs from our previous policy

Previously, we had no policy on multiple options, for example, both F and M options on a birth certificate.

Full briefing paper

More information

One Comment

Marilyn Milos, RN

Bravo. We should be welcoming every child into the world with acceptance for who they are, not who we think they should be. We need to change our thinking so that every child is accepted, not change the bodies of children so that they can fit into our perceived, unreasonable notions of who they “should” be. They are exactly the way they should be and it is our job to recognize that and to love, respect, and accept them as is!

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