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US State Department Issues First ‘X-Gender’ Passport

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FILE - A U.S. passport cover is seen in Washington, D.C., May 25, 2021. The United States has issued its first passport with an "X-gender" designation, a milestone in the recognition of the rights of people who don't identify as male or female.

The U.S. State Department announced Wednesday it has issued the first U.S. passport with an X-gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons.

In a release posted to the department website, spokesman Ned Price said the move follows up on a commitment Secretary of State Antony Blinken made in June to make the third gender marker available, “another step toward ensuring the fair treatment of LGBTQI+ U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender or sex.”

Price said the State Department will be offering the option to all routine passport applicants, once system and form updates are completed early next year. The department also will provide updates and information on its website.

In comments to the Associated Press (AP) Wednesday, U.S. special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQI+ rights, Jessica Stern, said the move was “historic and celebratory,” noting they bring the government travel documents in line with the “lived reality” that there is a wider spectrum of human sex characteristics than is reflected in the previous two designations.

“When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect,” said Stern.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, praised the move.

“Today is a milestone for the United States as the State Department issues the first passport with an ‘X’ designation, and we are so glad that soon all transgender, intersex, and non-binary people will be able to access an accurate marker on their passport. The ACLU will continue to work with the Biden administration so that accurate gender markers are available on IDs and records across the federal government,” the group said in a statement.

The State Department did not say for whom the initial X-gender passport was issued, though the AP reports intersex Colorado resident Dana Zzyym, has been in a legal battle with the department since 2015.

Zzyym (pronounced Zimm) was denied a passport for failing to check male or female on an application. According to court documents, Zzyym wrote “intersex” above the boxes marked “M” and “F” and requested an “X” gender marker instead in a separate letter.

The U.S. joins a handful of countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Nepal and Canada, in allowing its citizens to designate a gender other than male or female on their passports.

Stern told the AP her office planned to share the U.S. experience with the change in its interactions around the world, and she said she hopes that might help inspire more governments to offer the option.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press

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