The US State Department announced on Wednesday that it had issued the first American passport with an ‘X’ gender marker. Dana Zzyym, a US Navy veteran, and the associate director for the Intersex Campaign for Equality, was identified by Lambda Legal as their client who was the recipient of the passport.
The move gives people who identify as nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming the ability to no longer have to identify as male or female on their passport.
“We look forward to offering this option to all routine passport applicants once we complete the required system and form updates in early 2022,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
“The Department also continues to work closely with other US government agencies to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity. 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,” Price said.
US Navy Veteran Is The First Recipient
The policy change brings the US into line with at least 15 other countries, including Argentina, Austria, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Nepal, which allow people to be identified as a third gender or as a legally recognized non-binary person.
“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 a statement.
“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.”
“I’ve been at this fight for more than a decade,” Zzyym said. “But, with the incredible support and work of Lambda Legal and the Intersex Campaign for Equality, I have a passport that reflects who I truly am; and that will allow for me to attend international conferences in person to continue fighting for the rights of intersex people.”
Gender Neutral Passports
In a press statement, Mary Emily O’Hara, the Rapid Response Manager for GLAAD said, “Intersex, nonbinary, and transgender people need identity documents that accurately reflect who we are, and having mismatched documents can create problems with safety and visibility.”
WIN: @StateDept has issued the first passport with a gender neutral “X” marker to our client, Dana Zzyym!
In 2015, Dana was denied a passport application with this marker, and their six-year fight has made this moment possible.https://t.co/qDGK5tmZbh
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) October 27, 2021
“Dana Zzyym’s long fight has culminated in a victory for so many people who simply want to travel through the world as their authentic selves. Today, the US finally catches up with other countries around the world that have already seen gender-neutral passports in use for years, and that’s something to celebrate,” O’Hara said.
“This is a momentous day and its significance cannot be understated,” said Paul D. Castillo, the Legal Counsel for Lambda in a statement.
“Dana Zzyym, who uses the gender-neutral pronouns ‘they,’ ‘them’ and ‘their,’ was born with ambiguous sex characteristics,” Lambda said in a statement.
“After their parents decided to raise them as a boy, Dana underwent several irreversible, painful and medically unnecessary surgeries that didn’t work, traumatized Dana and left them with severe scarring. Many years later, after serving six years in the US Navy and then attending Colorado State University, Dana began researching surgeries and came to understand they had been born intersex.”
“After a six year legal battle with three favorable court rulings, Dana has finally received an accurate US 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.”
Only 20 US States Allow People To Choose ‘X’ Gender Marker
State Department releases statement saying they have issued the first U.S. passport with an X gender marker.
“We look forward to offering this option to all routine passport applicants once we complete the required system and form updates in early 2022” https://t.co/DsE6IcvevT
— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) October 27, 2021
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken first announced the policy change in June, saying, “The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or CRBA. We are evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal. The process of adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents is technologically complex and will take time for extensive systems updates.”
“The Department will also be working closely with its interagency partners to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for the passport holder,” Blinken said.
Currently, only 20 US states allow for people to choose an X marker to represent their gender identity on their drivers licences. Prior to the policy change for passports, those with an X on their drivers licence could not get a passport which matched their gender as shown on their state identification.
Kimberley Zieselman, the Executive Director for InterACT, in a statement, said, ”On behalf of interACT, congratulations to Dana for their tireless advocacy and commitment to ensuring Americans with nonbinary gender identities, including some intersex people, now have the option to be authentically identified in passports and hopefully other federal documents.”
Advocacy group InterACT defines an intersex person as “people have one or more physical sex characteristics that don’t align with what is considered either a typical ‘male’ or ‘female’ body. Being intersex means there are ‘many possible differences in genitalia, hormones, internal anatomy, or chromosomes, compared to the usual two ways that human bodies develop.’”
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