US issues first passport with ‘X’ gender marker

People in support of transgender rights rally outside the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala, on Tuesday, Mar 30, 2021. Americans will be allowed to declare their self-identified gender on their US passports without providing medical documents under a new State Department rule announced on Wednesday, Jun 30, the final day of Pride Month. Nicole Craine/The New York Times
The United States has issued its first US passport with an “X” gender marker, acknowledging the rights of people who do not identify as male or female, the State Department said Wednesday.

The department said in a statement that it would expand the gender-neutral option to all applicants next year after it updates its policies on passports and US citizenship certificates for children born abroad. It said it was working with other government agencies to “ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity.”

It did not identify the recipient of the passport, but Lambda Legal, a national civil rights organisation, said Wednesday that the passport had been issued to Dana Zzyym, a military veteran who is intersex.

In 2015, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Colorado against the State Department on Zzyym’s behalf after Zzyym was denied a gender-neutral passport.

Zzyym’s original birth certificate identified them as male, and their driver’s license listed them as female, according to court documents.

The court ruled in favour of Zzyym in 2016, but Lambda Legal said in a statement that it asked a federal court to reopen the case because the State Department continued to “refuse to recognise a gender marker that is neither ‘M’ (male) nor ‘F’ (female).”

The State Department said in its statement Wednesday that the new option was part of a “commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity and equality of all people.”

In June, the Biden administration announced a new rule that created a gender marker on passports and citizenship certificates for people who are nonbinary, intersex, or do not conform to gender roles.

The previous policy for changing a gender marker on a passport required medical certification to be included with the application, which was available only to those who had transitioned from one gender to another. That application is no longer required.

More than a half-dozen other countries — including Canada, Australia, Argentina, Nepal and New Zealand — have adopted similar policies. About 20 US states and the District of Columbia allow an “X” gender designation on driver’s licenses.

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