The State Department announced Wednesday it has loosened its requirements for altering gender on a passport for transgender people.

The United States will no longer require that a reassignment surgery precede a passport gender change.

“Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance,” the State Department said in a release.

The policy, which goes into effect Thursday, will allow transgender people to more easily alter their passport to reflect the gender they identify with. The only requirement for altering gender on a passport is a certificate from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone a gender transition. No additional medical records are required.

“Transgender Americans face extreme danger when traveling abroad in the many countries that are hostile to them,” Michael D. Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), a group that advocates for the rights of transgender people, said.

“Adoption of this safety-focused policy is a giant step forward in protecting transgender Americans abroad, and in fulfilling the State Department's commitment to protect all Americans when they travel, work or live overseas,” he added.

The new policy also allows transgender people to obtain a temporary passport in the new gender if a physician's statement shows that the applicant is in the process of gender transition.

Officials said the new policy is based on recommendations by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).