In 2003, Alex MacFarlane quietly became the first person in the country to obtain a passport with neither an M or an F in the sex field. Almost 50 at the time, they had spent much of their adult life pushing to obtain an X there instead, demarcating indeterminate, intersex, and/or unspecified.

Ten years later, in a move that Professor Gillian Triggs called "profoundly significant", the federal government introduced the "Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender", a publication that built on progress made in the decade prior and mandated that all federal institutions comply with standards of terminology, privacy, and care.

Commencing on July 1, 2013, the guidelines stipulated that all departments and agencies were expected to comply within three years, but as July 1 2016 passed, it became increasingly clear that many had failed to meet the deadline. I had heard of friends slipping through cracks in these systems with little fanfare, so asked several people who are navigating these systems to speak with me about their experiences.