People will be able to select an “X” as their gender on their US passports from next week, a campaign promise from the Biden-Harris administration that hopes to advance the “dignity, respect, and self-determination” of non-binary, intersex, transgender, and gender non-conforming individuals.
On March 31, Transgender Day of Visibility, the US Department of State announced that the option will be open to everyone applying for a US passport from April 11, 2022, and will become available for other official documentation next year.
“After thoughtful consideration of the research conducted and feedback from community members, we concluded that the definition of the X gender marker on State Department public forms will be ‘Unspecified or another gender identity.’ This definition is respectful of individuals’ privacy while advancing inclusion,” Antony John Blinken, US Secretary of State, said in a statement.
The move fulfills one of President Joe Biden’s campaign promises, which declared “every transgender or non-binary person should have the option of changing their gender marker to ‘M,’ ‘F,’ or ‘X’ on government identifications, passports, and other documentation.”
“This is a major step in delivering on the President’s commitment to expand access to accurate identification documents for transgender and non-binary Americans,” the White House said in a recent announcement.
The push to have this option goes back to 2015 when Dana Zzyym launched a legal battle against the State Department for refusing to issue a passport that acknowledge they were intersex. Zzyym was born with ambiguous sex characteristics. Though Zzyym’s parents decided to raise them as a boy, the former Navy sailor came to realize in later life that they had been born intersex. In their lawsuit, it was argued that the State Department was violating Zzyym's constitutional rights by denying them a passport that accurately reflects their gender.
In October 2021, the US issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation. The State Department did not publically state who was issued the passport due to privacy concerns, but Zzyym later acknowledged they were indeed the recipient.
“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 at the time. “I’m also ecstatic that other intersex and nonbinary 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.”