American trans men and women will be able to get their new gender recognised on their passports without having to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

The change, announced by the US State Department yesterday, is the result of lobbying from trans groups who said trans travellers could face danger when visiting some countries with a passport that does not match their appearance.

Previously, the department would only allow applicants to change their passport gender if they had undergone complete gender surgery.

The change takes effect immediately and gives those who have “undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” the opportunity to declare their new gender on passports.

Patients currently transitioning will be able to obtain a limited-validity passport with supporting evidence from their doctor.

The statement did not set out what “appropriate clinical treatment” meant but Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told AP it could mean surgery for some patients but not for others.