State Department Issues First Passport With “X” Gender Marker

A woman holds passports
The Department of State has issued its first passport with the gender marker “X.”
REUTERS/Fred Greaves

The US Department of State issued the first passport with the gender marker “X” on October 27, marking an end to an intersex advocate’s years-long battle for the designation.

This news follows the US Department of State’s June announcement that an “X” gender marker option would be added to passports in order to become more inclusive of the transgender, intersex, non-binary, and gender-non-conforming community. The rule changes also apply to Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA), a document that verifies US citizenship to children born abroad to US citizen parents. The US Department of State said the option will be offered for all passport applicants next year.

“I want to reiterate, on the occasion of this passport issuance, the Department of State’s commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people — including LGBTQI+ persons,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a written statement.

The updated policies are an outgrowth of a lawsuit lodged by intersex and non-binary US Navy Veteran Dana Zzyym, who began petitioning the department for a gender-neutral passport in 2015. With the support of the LGBTQ litigation group Lambda Legal, Zzyym said they are proud to hold a passport that aligns with their gender identity.

“I almost burst into tears when I opened the envelope, pulled out my new passport, and saw the ‘X’ stamped boldly under ‘sex,'” Zzyym said in a written statement. “I’m also ecstatic that other intersex and non-binary US citizens will soon be able to apply for passports with the correct gender marker. It took six years, but to have an accurate passport, one that doesn’t force me to identify as male or female but recognizes I am neither, is liberating.”

Kimberly Zieselman, the executive director of InterACT, an advocacy group for intersex youth, said this is a victory that will have a lasting impact on the intersex and other gender-diverse communities.

“On behalf of interACT, congratulations to Dana for their tireless advocacy and commitment to ensuring Americans with non-binary gender identities, including some intersex people, now have the option to be authentically identified in passports and hopefully other federal documents,” Zieselman said in a written statement to Gay City News.

JoDee Winterhof, who is the Human Rights Campaign’s senior vice president of policy and political affairs, praised the updated policies as a step toward helping LGBTQ individuals “lead dignified lives.”

“Official documents that reflect an individual’s true identity are essential,” Winterhof said in a written statement. “The United States must encourage other governments around the world to follow suit in adopting inclusive policies that recognize and affirm non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming people.”

The US now joins more than a dozen countries across the globe in offering the gender marker “X” on passports. More than 20 states in the US, including New York, provide gender-neutral options on identification documents.

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