Nepal: Third-Gender Passports May Be the Future of Trans Travel

The arrival of a transgender activist from Nepal in Taiwan for the 2015 International Lesbian and Gay Association’s Asia conference may seem unremarkable. But it was in fact quite special: The activist, Bhumika Shrestha, is the first Nepali citizen to travel abroad carrying a passport marked O for “other” instead of M  for “male” or F for “female.”

This is a groundbreaking and long-overdue achievement for global travel because it demonstrates that self-identification can and should be the sole factor in obtaining gendered documents.

Nepal’s legal recognition of a third category began with a 2007 Supreme Court case in which the judge ordered the government to create a legal category for people who identify as neither male nor female. Crucially, the judgment dictated that the ability to get documents bearing a third gender should be based on “self-feeling.” That is to say: no tests, expert opinions, or other potentially humiliating adjudication should play a role in the process.

But that concept had at the time only recently been enshrined in the Yogyakarta Principles, the first international guidelines on sexual orientation, gender identity, and human rights standards. And carrying out the court decision proved knottier than the court’s declaration. Read More via the Advocate