A California lawmaker introduced legislation that would allow travelers to choose a third gender-neutral option on their U.S. passports. In addition to “(M) male” or “(F) female,” there would also be “(X) unspecified.”
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Santa Clara, introduced the bill on Tuesday, NBC Bay Area reports. If passed into law, the State Department would make the “X” option available for all U.S. passports, passport cards, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.
The legislation is “self-attesting,” so it doesn’t require applicants to show proof of their gender identity from doctors or mental health professionals.
Fifteen states and Washington D.C. already offer a gender-neutral “X” option on state identification documents. Khanna thanked a trans woman lawmaker, New Hampshire Rep. Gerri Cannon, for fighting for gender-neutral drivers’ licenses in her state, and he argued that this option should be available nationwide for all travel documents.
“Respecting every American’s gender must extend to travel abroad,” Khanna said. “The freedom to move and express yourself no matter what should be guaranteed in this country.”
For safety reasons, Khanna’s legislation allows those who currently use gender-neutral state identification not to list “X” on their passports if they don’t feel comfortable doing so.
“This allows gender-diverse Americans to make the best decision for themselves and their safety when traveling,” a statement from his office read.
Almost a dozen countries currently offer more than two gender options on their passport applications, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Bangladesh, India, and New Zealand.
Khanna’s legislation has been backed by the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the Intersex Campaign for Equality.
“Many members of the LGBTQ community identify as non-binary, and non-binary individuals deserve to have their gender acknowledged and accurately reflected on vital government documents like passports,” said David Stacy, Human Rights Campaign government affairs director.
“Non-binary people already face disproportionately high rates of discrimination, harassment and violence, and this risk of harm is significantly exacerbated when forced to present incongruent legal documents that do not accurately reflect who they are.”