Most oppose Biden admin.'s passport rules allowing Americans to select their gender identity: poll

LGBT activists and their supporters rally in support of transgender people on the steps of New York City Hall, October 24, 2018 in New York City. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A little over half of Americans oppose a new rule by the Biden administration that allows for people to change the gender identity on their passports even if it contradicts their birth certificate, a new poll suggests.

The survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports published Tuesday found that 54% of American adults disapprove of the State Department's new gender identity passport policy, which includes 39% who "strongly disapprove."

Additionally, 35% of surveyed American adults said they approve of the policy, including 18% who "strongly approve," while 11% of respondents said they were unsure.

The survey data was drawn from a sample of 1,000 American adults conducted Sept. 19 through Sept. 20, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In late June, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the State Department will allow people to choose the gender identity on their passports even if it contradicts their biological sex or the gender listed on other government documentation. 

This new policy would allow people to change the gender identity listed on their passports even when they lacked any medical paperwork to justify the change.

"The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or [Consular Report of Birth Abroad]," stated Blinken earlier this year.

"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."

A State Department webpage on "Selecting your Gender Marker" states that people looking to request a new passport with a different gender or for those applying for their first passport can "submit a new application and select your preferred gender marker."

"You can select 'M' or 'F', which are the gender markers currently available," the State Department webpage reads. "We are working to add a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons as soon as possible."

The policy change came partly in response to Dana Zzyym, a U.S. Navy Veteran who identifies as nonbinary and intersex who sued to get a passport that reflects that identity.

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

The agency had also contended that there is no medical consensus on determining intersex identity and that creating a third designation for sex, such as an "X" mark for the gender category, 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." The court sent the case back 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.

"The State Department acknowledges that some individuals are born neither male nor female. Forcing these individuals to pick a gender thus injects inaccuracy into the data," stated the panel.

"A chef might label a jar of salt a jar of sugar, but the label does not make the salt any sweeter. Nor does requiring intersex people to mark 'male' or 'female' on an application make the passport any more accurate."

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