State Department Issues First Gender-Free Passport With X Marker Option

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The department hopes to be more inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community.

The U.S. State Department has issued the first U.S. passport with an "X" gender mark to become more inclusive in implementing progressive policies for LGBTQIA+ persons, it announced Wednesday.

In June, the department announced it would update procedures to allow applicants to self-select their sex marker for passports and that it "will no longer require medical certification" if an the applicant doesn’t identify with a gender or doesn’t match the sex listed, CNN reported.

"As the Secretary announced in June, the Department is moving towards adding an X gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a U.S. passport or CRBA," State spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. "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."

In 2022, the X marker will be a standard box to tick on new applications, CNN said.

The X mark has long been something that transgender rights activists have pushed for on identification cards as the simple “Male” and “Female” boxes could lead to harassment and discrimination for members of the LGBTQIA+  community, CNN reported.

Despite the State Department not disclosing who the person who received the first X marker and gender- free passport, Lambda Legal said it is their client Dana Zzyym.

Zzyym, an intersex Colorado resident says they were denied a passport for failing to check a male or female box on an application, the Associated Press reported.

“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 press release sent by Lambda Legal. “I’m also ecstatic that other intersex and nonbinary U.S. 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.”

“This is a momentous day and its significance cannot be understated,” Lambda Legal Counsel Paul D. Castillo said in a press release. “After a six-year legal battle with three favorable court rulings, Dana has finally received an accurate U.S. passport. They showed incredible courage and perseverance throughout the case. We couldn’t be more delighted, both for Dana and, as important, for all intersex, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming United States’ passport applicants who will soon have access to the accurate passports they need.”

The news of the X passport came the day after Intersex Awareness Day.

Price issued a statement on the State Department’s website saying, “The Department of State is committed to promoting and protecting the rights, dignity, and equality of all individuals, including intersex persons.  It is the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics, while acknowledging the intersections with disability, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, or other status."

“Intersex persons are subject to violence, discrimination, and abuse on the basis of their sex characteristics.  Many intersex persons, including children, experience invasive, unnecessary, and sometimes irreversible medical procedures,” the statement added. “The Department supports the empowerment of movements and organizations advancing the human rights of intersex persons and the inclusion of intersex persons in the development of policies that impact their enjoyment of human rights.”

The US now joins Canada, Australia, Nepal New Zealand with similar gender-inclusive passport policies, AP reported.

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