On 3 April 2024 the Hong Kong Government announced that it would no longer require transgender people to undergo full sex reassignment surgery in order to change the gender markers on their ID cards.

This comes more than a year after the landmark ruling in Q v Commissioner of Registration (FACV8/2022) [2023] HKCFA 4 and Tse Henry Edward v Commissioner of Registration [2023] HKCFA 4 heard together at the Court of Final Appeal. The Court unanimously held that the refusal by the Commissioner of Registration to allow two female-to-male transgender persons to change their gender marker on their ID cards before undergoing full sex reassignment surgery was unconstitutional and in violation of the Appellants’ right to privacy under Article 14 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.

Under the revised policy, female-to-male transgender individuals who have removed their breasts, and male-to-female transgender individuals who have removed their penis and testes may apply to change their genders on their ID cards. Previous guidelines required transgender men to remove their uterus and ovaries and construct a penis, and transgender women to construct a vagina following the removal of the penis and testes in order for gender reassignment to be considered ‘complete’. 

Those wishing to change their gender markers must also show proof of having completed at least two years of continuous hormonal treatment and declare that they have gender dysphoria before a gender change ID application can be made. 

In its announcement the Hong Kong Government clarified that the gender marker change will only apply to Hong Kong ID cards, and that the sex entry on a Hong Kong ID card does not represent the holder’s sex as a matter of law: “The revised policy does not affect any other policies of the Government or the handling of any other gender-related matters under the law in Hong Kong or relevant legal procedures.”

Although the revised policy has been a welcomed development for the transgender community, it is still being widely criticised by activists and law makers for its harsh surgical, medical and reporting requirements, which some say continue to violate transgender people’s rights to privacy and bodily integrity.