It's a small thing, but it makes a world of difference to a trans woman.

Meet Sonja.

“I’m a trans woman, who worked out that she needed to stop repressing her gender identity and live as a woman about two and a half years ago,” she told Mamamia.

“I have clearly identified, internally, as feminine of centre, and as ‘she’, since somewhere about eight years of age.

“I’ve always been desperately uncomfortable with the expectations and roles cast for me in society, based on my anatomy, and it’s resulted in a life long struggle.”


According to Sonja, there is a mismatch between the way she feels, in terms of her gender, and what her body is like.

Despite living as a woman and undergoing hormone treatment, she says she is still not entirely comfortable with the way she looks and is often misgendered.

“It’s really disconcerting when that happens, and sometimes quite traumatic,” she says.

“It reminds me of where I was, and how unhappy I was, and I feel like I’ve lost progress.”

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At the beginning of this year, Sonja requested to have gender affirmation surgery at a clinic in Thailand, which she underwent successfully earlier this month.

In order to get there though, she had to fly- and to fly, she needed a passport.

“The situation with official documentation [such as a passport] induces just as much dysphoria,” Sonja explains. “When I’m categorised as ‘male’, by a government department or institution, I feel depressed and and silenced.”

It took an enormous amount of work for Sonja make get the majority of her official documentation to reflect her gender identity- and she was worried that getting her passport right would be just as traumatic.

What she didn’t know, was that in 2011, the Australian government introduced a new passport system, which allows transgender people — whose perception of their own sex is at odds with their biology — to pick whether they identify as male, female or neither.

“I was enormously pleased and surprised to learn how progressive the Australian Passport Office is”, she says.

“It’s another hurdle cleared, to have that ‘F’ on my passport, and it has a significant effect on my self esteem and happiness, one probably only properly understood by those who experience gender dysphoria.”

And here it is:

Sonja’s passport.

Most Australians take for granted the right to travel freely without fear of discrimination- and kudos to the Rudd Government for removing this small, but significant obstacle.

It may not seem like much, but it can make a world of difference to a woman like Sonja.

Sonja is a writer and activist. She is an outspoken feminist and supporter of intersectional feminism. Prioritising marginalised people, she works to create visibility and a platform for women, people of colour, trans people, people with varying sexualities, people with differing physical abilities, sex workers, and other oppressed groups.

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“How I chose my new name”: A personal account by a trans woman.

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