India decides biometric consistency means transgender people can update passports
In New Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) advised the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to create a policy allowing people who undergo sex reassignment surgery outside of India to get a new passport more easily, noting that the surgeries do not actually change biometrics, says the Press Trust of India.
The MEA responded that it needs to discuss the issue with stakeholders and examine whether the MHA’s assertion is technically true before establishing a policy. Justice Subramonium Prasad has scheduled a hearing to discuss the subject on December 19th.
A transgender woman submitted a petition to re-issue her passport with her revised name, gender and picture, after her appearance changed due to sex reassignment surgery.
The petitioner moved to the U.S. in 2018 for work and underwent transition from 2016 to 2022, legally changing her name in the U.S. When she submitted an application to re-issue her passport at home, it took six months for the document to be updated. This revealed the need for an established policy for future cases.
On November 7th, Farman Ali Magray, representative for the MEA, told the court of two letters received from the Deputy Secretary of Immigration and MEA.
One letter the MHA submitted to the MEA stated that the MEA can issue a new passport because the individual updating the information can still be verified through biometrics. Another letter from a concerned embassy to the Bureau of Immigration said the update would facilitate immigration clearance by avoiding confusion at the checkpoint.
A letter from the MEA said it agrees that a person who undergoes a sex change operation outside the country is allowed to apply for a new passport to update name, sex, and appearance.