The Ministry of the Interior yesterday rebutted a media report that said it plans to cancel the gender category on national ID cards soon, saying that it was a suggestion made by academics researching the issue, but the ministry is not considering doing so any time soon.
“A team of academics commissioned by the ministry to research policies in other countries concerning official registration on gender diversity suggested that the gender marking on national ID cards and the use of the number ‘1’ in national ID numbers to indicate the male gender and ‘2’ to indicate the female gender should all be voided,” a statement released by the ministry yesterday said. “As the suggestion may involve responsibilities of different government agencies and relevant policies still need to be discussed, the ministry has no plan to turn it into actual policy in the foreseeable future.”
The statement said that according to information that the ministry has collected, gender is marked in passports in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, the UK, Canada, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Besides Australia, where a third gender is allowed on passports, all other countries only allow passport holders to check either the male or the female gender,” it said.
“In addition, in all countries that issue national ID cards, none has voided the gender marking,” the ministry added.
The statement was released in response to a story published yesterday in the Chinese-language Apple Daily that the ministry plans to cancel the gender marking on national ID cards, only keeping the information on the household registration record.
The report said the gender of a person in the household registration record would be the biological gender of the person at birth, however, an additional blank for “social gender” would be available for those who would like to register an alternative gender.
The story quoted the ministry’s Department of Household Registration director Wanda Chang (張琬宜) as saying that the new policy will only apply to new applicants for national ID cards to reduce the cost.
Recently, various gender rights groups are pushing for canceling gender identification on national ID cards to prevent discrimination by law enforcement agents against people who have identified themselves with a gender that differs from their biological gender when their ID cards are checked.