TSA to allow passengers to identify as gender ‘X’ instead of male or female at security checks

TSA Officer watches people go through the security checkpoint at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on November 24, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia. FAA expects the number of travelers for Thanksgiving to reach pre-pandemic levels, with more than 53 million people traveling around the holiday. | Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Biden administration announced that airport security will now allow passengers to select their gender as “X,” regardless of the gender listed in their passports or other IDs, and Americans will be able to select their gender on their passports without supporting medical documentation.

Beginning this month, pre-check applicants “can select the gender they would like saved” in their records “simply by selecting ‘M’ or ‘F’ during the enrollment / renewal process,” the Transportation Security Administration said in a statement on Thursday, adding that existing enrollees can change their gender designation by calling a hotline.

“The gender selected does not need to match the gender on supporting documentation, such as birth certificate, passport, or state-issued ID,” the TSA said. “Changing a gender association in TSA PreCheck will have no effect on a member’s expedited screening when arriving at the TSA checkpoint.”

The TSA said it is also working to include, by the end of this year, an “X” gender marker option on its application to ensure the pre-check program “accurately reflects traveler gender and keeps pace with identity documents that offer the “X” gender marker option.”

The Department of Homeland Security also issued a statement, saying the TSA will work with airlines to promote the acceptance of the X gender marker and will revise the guidance for its officers to do away with gender considerations when validating documents, The Associated Press reported.

The DHS also said that Americans will be able to select an X gender designation on their passports, starting April 11, without supporting medical documentation.

On Thursday, the Biden administration said: “Far too many transgender Americans still face systemic barriers, discrimination, and acts of violence. Today, the Administration once again condemns the proliferation of dangerous anti-transgender legislative attacks that have been introduced and passed in state legislatures around the country.”

Last October, the Biden administration announced 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.

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

The policy change came partly in response to Dana Zzyym, a U.S. Navy Veteran who identified as nonbinary and intersex and filed a lawsuit to get a passport reflecting that 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 for helping identify individuals ineligible for passports and helping to make passport data useful for other agencies valid.

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