United States Issues Its 1st Passport with ‘X’ Gender Marker

M, F, or X? The U.S. has issued the first passport with an “X” gender designation. 

The move has been considered as a huge milestone in the recognition of the rights of people who do not identify as either male or female. 

The State Department has said it expects the option to be more widely available in 2022. 

LGBTQ activists have urged for support from the government to make identity documents more inclusive. Mary Emily O’Hara of GLAAD said that intersex, nonbinary, and transgender people need documentation that accurately reflects who they are, and furthermore, that mismatched documents not only an issue for visibility, but for safety. 

The US special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights, Jessica Stern, said the change in options is history, and celebratory. Stern said the decision means the government has caught up with the “lived reality” that there is a wider spectrum of human sex characteristic than simply two options. 

In June, the State Department had said it was moving towards a third gender market. Their announcement said that while they were working on it, it would require a bit of time to do, because of needed updates to the computer systems.

At the time of the announcement over the summer, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the move represented further steps towards ensuring fair treatment of all LGBTQIA+ people. 

Applicants now also have the ability to self-designate their gender. Previously applicants needed to provide medical certification to prove male or female. 

State by state laws have meant that gender-nonconforming people, intersex, transgender and nonbinary people have been unable to obtain IDs that accurately reflect who they are. This new expansion of gender options on passports will mean that everyone in the U.S. has the ability to have their gender preference on the official federal ID. 

President Joe Biden had promised an expansion of gender markers on official identification documents during his presidential run. Biden has committed to more inclusion and accommodation for transgender and nonbinary people.

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