US passports to offer X gender marker starting April 11

Americans will be able to choose an X-gender designation on their passports from next month, the State Department said, a new option for those who do not identify as male or female only.

The State Department said on Thursday that the X-gender designation will be an option for US citizens to choose from in their passport applications from April 11. The X gender marker will be defined as “unspecified or other gender identity” on forms, the ministry said, based on input from members of the LGBTQ community and others.

The choice will be available on other documentation forms next year, including passport cards or emergency passports, the department said.

The move is part of a federal effort to expand the options available to applicants and promote equal rights for transgender, non-binary and gender-segregated people. Americans will also be able to change their gender on these forms without presenting medical documentation.

The State Department issued its first passport with an X gender designation in October 2021 to Dana Zzyym, an intersexual and non-binary US Navy veteran who sued the ministry in 2015 for the issue.

“It took six years, but having a proper passport, a passport that does not force me to identify as a man or a woman but realizes that I am neither, is liberating,” Mx said. Zzyym, who uses the gender-neutral honorific, in a statement then.

More than 1.2 million people in the United States identify as non-binary, which means that their gender identity does not conform to traditional male or female definitions, according to a June 2021 study from the University of California, Los Angeles.

In recent years, more US states and companies have offered the option of an X-gender designation on driver’s licenses and other identification documents.

The Biden administration on Thursday released details of several other initiatives that it said will improve the airport travel experience for transgender and non-binary people. The Transportation Security Administration said they are changing their gender-based advanced imaging technology to reduce further investigations for some “due to alarms in sensitive areas.”

The White House also put forward steps to improve the mental resources of transgender people. And it said that the new gender designation option will be offered in other parts of the federal government, including as a choice of forms that individuals use to apply for discrimination fees through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, said on Thursday that the Biden administration’s efforts “come at a much-needed time.”

“Today, the White House is proving that they have the backs of transgender people,” Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.

The federal effort comes when lawmakers in some states have introduced and adopted measures that prohibit sports students, especially transsexual girls, from participating in categories that differ from their biological sex at birth. Proponents of the bill say transgender female athletes have a natural physical advantage and that the legislation would create a smoother game plan for women athletes. Opponents say the rules are unnecessary, unconstitutional and deny transgender people the opportunity to practice school sports as their peers.

Republican governors of Utah and Indiana vetoed such bills last week, differing from GOP leaders in other states who have signed similar rules in law. Utah lawmakers voted to overturn the governor’s veto on Friday, and Republicans in Indiana hope to override the veto when they convene later this spring.

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