Biden State Dept. celebrates first nonbinary gender 'X' US passport

Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema
Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it has issued the first-ever U.S. passport for citizens who identify as nonbinary or intersex by using the “X” gender marker instead of “M” for male or “F” for female.

Ned Price, the spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, said in a statement that the department had “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,” Price added.

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“The Department also continues to work closely with other U.S. government agencies to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity.”

Price said additional updates on the implementation of the X gender marker on passports for people who identify as nonbinary would be found on the website

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in June that the State Department would allow people to choose their gender identity for passports even if it contradicts with their biological sex or the gender identity listed on other official documents.

"The Department has begun moving toward adding a gender marker for nobinary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or [Consular Report of Birth Abroad]," Blinken said at the time.

"We are evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal. The process of adding a gender marker for nonbinary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents is technologically complex and will take time for extensive systems updates."

The policy change came partly in response to Dana Zzyym, a U.S. Navy Veteran who identifies as nonbinary and intersex who filed a lawsuit to get a passport that reflecting this new identity.

Previously, the State Department had defended the gender binary for passports by arguing that it ensured accuracy, helped identify eligibility, and made passport data useful for other agencies.

The department had also previously contended that there was no medical consensus on determining intersex identity and that creating a third designation for sex, such as an "X" mark, was not feasible.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled in May 2020 that three of the five reasons argued by the State Department "lacked record support" and sent the case back down to the district court level.

The circuit panel still considered the reasons of helping identify individuals ineligible for passports and helping to make passport data useful for other agencies valid.

According to a Rasmussen Reports poll from September, 54% of American adults disapproved of the State Department's new gender identity passport policy, while 35% said they approved.

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