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State Department Will Allow “X” Gender Markers On Passports

June 30, 2021

"With today’s announcement, countless intersex, non-binary, and other gender-diverse United States passport applicants will at last get the accurate passports they need."

The State Department will allow “X” gender markers on passports for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming applicants. Although the Department has stated it is working on the change now, it has yet to provide a timeline for when the new markers will officially be available.

In a statement released to the press, Lambda Legal calls the change a victory for plaintiff Dana Zzyym, a U.S. Navy Veteran and intersex advocate who has been fighting for over six years to obtain a U.S. passport. Zzyym, who is currently the associate director for the Intersex Campaign for Equality, was born with ambiguous sex traits and identifies as non-binary.  

“I am optimistic that, with the incredible support and work of Lambda Legal and the Intersex Campaign for Equality, I will soon receive an accurate passport,” Zzyym said in the release. “One that reflects who I truly am; and that will allow for me to present in person at the several international conferences to which I’ve been invited to present on issues confronting intersex people.” 

Lambda Legal filed suit against the State Department on behalf of Zzyym back in 2015, after the Department refused to issue them a U.S. passport. A district court ruled in favor of Zzyym on two separate occasions; the Department subsequently filed a appeal in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The update to the State Department’s policy has been a long time coming and is prompted in large part by three separate court rulings in Dana’s favor,” said Lambda Legal Counsel Paul D. Castillo. “Dana showed incredible courage and perseverance throughout, and it is rewarding to see the light at the end of the tunnel. With today’s announcement, countless intersex, non-binary, and other gender-diverse United States passport applicants will at last get the accurate passports they need. As important, self-certification of their identity removes unnecessary barriers and makes accurate IDs accessible to more people, reducing discrimination, harassment, and violence aimed at transgender people.” 

At least ten other countries recognize additional gender markers beyond “Female” and “Male,” as do 21 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. 

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