The US has issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation, marking a milestone in the legal recognition of people who don’t identify as either male or female. The State Department announced it hopes to make this option routinely available for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a US passport by early 2022.
“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," Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, 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.”
However, the story 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 they had been born intersex. In their lawsuit, it was argued the State Department was violating Zzyym's constitutional rights by denying them a passport that accurately reflects their gender.
Speaking in June after the State Department announced its decision to broaden gender options on US passports, Zzyym said: “I’ve been at this fight for so long. I am optimistic that... I will soon receive an accurate passport. One that reflects who I truly am; and that will allow for me to present in person at the several international conferences to which I’ve been invited to present on issues confronting intersex people.”
The State Department, however, has not confirmed or denied whether the passport was issued for Zzyym due to privacy concerns.
The US is not alone in this move. A number of countries across the world — including Bangladesh, India, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — also include non-binary gender options on passports.