Americans will soon be able to self-select which gender appears on their passports, and among the options will be a “gender marker for nonbinary, intersex, and gender nonconforming persons,” Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced on Wednesday.
“We will be updating our procedures to allow applicants to self-select their gender as ‘M’ or ‘F’ and will no longer require medical certification if an applicant’s self-selected gender does not match the gender on their other citizenship or identity documents,” Blinken wrote, adding that the State Department is “currently evaluating” the best way to allow Americans who do not identify as male or female to identify themselves on passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs).
Blinken noted that adding a new nonconforming gender marker “is technologically complex and will take time for extensive systems updates.” According to The 19th, nonbinary Americans will be able to obtain an interim “X” on their passports by the end of the year.
Advocacy groups praised the announcement.
”Improved access to accurate passports will have such a profound impact on the lives of trans, intersex, and nonbinary folks across the country,” Arli Christian, an ACLU campaign strategist who had been pushing the administration to create a gender-neutral designation on federal identification, said in a statement. “Now people will be able to fill out a passport application and indicate M, F, or X — whichever is most appropriate for them. Trans, nonbinary, and intersex people know who we are, and we need recognition of who we are — not permission. But the work doesn’t stop here. We will keep working with the administration to make sure we see these important changes to gender change policies across all federal agencies.”
“Having the @StateDept recognize the importance of inclusive gender markers sends a strong message to LGBTQ people across the world,” the Human Rights Campaign tweeted. “We look forward to every federal agency taking similar steps.”
As The 19th notes, 20 states and Washington, D.C., already allow residents to identify themselves on IDs with a gender-neutral “X,” creating a discrepancy between how their gender is designated on state and federal IDs.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, only 11 percent of trans Americans have all of their IDs in the correct name and gender, while 1 in 3 have been verbally harassed, assaulted, denied service, or asked to leave when showing their ID.
“President Biden continues to deliver on important issues facing transgender Americans,” NCTE Executive Director Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen said in a statement. “With today’s announcements, the federal government is taking significant steps to ensure transgender Americans can more fully participate in their communities and in public life.”