The US Has Issued Its First Passport With Gender Neutral ‘X’ Marker - Women's Health

The US Has Issued Its First Passport With Gender Neutral ‘X’ Marker

It’s expected that the state department will be able to offer the option to nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming Americans in early 2022 in a push to better reflect the true identity of countless people.

In a landmark moment for the US and LGBTQ representation, the country has issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation, recognising the rights of people who don’t identify as male or female but are instead nonbinary, intersex or gender-nonconforming. It’s a significant milestone for the LGBTQ+ community, one that has fought for so long to see greater recognition across all aspects of life. Now, it’s hoped that the option will be available more broadly in early 2022, according to the state department. 

As US special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights, Jessica Stern explains, the use of the “x” marker in the first passport of its kind in the US is not only a historic move, but a momentous one worthy of celebration. As Stern suggests, it speaks volumes of the current climate we find ourselves now living in as the government looks to bring documents in line with the “lived reality” of a wider spectrum of human sex characteristics than is reflected in the previous two designations. 

“When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect,” said Stern. 

As The Guardian suggests, it’s unknown just who received the passport from the department as officials declined to comment. However some suggest it may have been for Dana Zzyym, an intersex Colorado resident who has been engaged in a legal battle with the department since 2015. As the publication reports, “Zzyym was denied a passport for failing to check male or female on an application. According to court documents, Zzyym wrote “intersex” above the boxes marked “M” and “F” and requested an “X” gender marker instead in a separate letter. Zzyym was born with ambiguous physical sexual characteristics but was raised as a boy and underwent several surgeries that failed to make Zzyym appear fully male, according to court filings.”

In June, the state department first announced that it would move towards adding a third gender marker for non-binary, intersex and gender-nonconforming people but also acknowledged that doing so would take some time. According to a department official, the full passport application and system update with the “X” designation option is still needing approval from the Office of Management and Budget. 

Under the new markers, applicants will now be able to self-select their gender, without having to provide medical certification should their gender not match that listed on their other identification documents. It’s certainly welcome news for the LGBTQ community as the United States joins countries like New Zealand, Nepal, Canada and Australia in allowing its citizens to designate a gender other than male or female on their passports. 

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