State Department to Introduce X Gender Markers on U.S. Passports

It's a big win for nonbinary and intersex Americans, according to LGBTQ+ advocates.

Nonbinary, intersex, and gender nonconforming Americans will soon be able to obtain passports that accurately reflect their gender identity.

On Wednesday (June 30), the State Department said it plans to introduce a third option for gender markers on United States passports: X, a gender-neutral alternative to M (male) or F (female). Additionally, trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming Americans applying for passports will no longer have to show medical documentation of their transition if their gender identity is not reflected on their other identification documents.

In an official statement confirming the updates, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken didn’t offer a timeline for the new gender markers on U.S. passports, noting that the changes are “technologically complex” and will take time to implement. He also said the new policies are part of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to “promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people — including LGBTQI+ persons.”

To date, 20 states in the U.S. and Washington, D.C., offer X gender markers on state-issued IDs like driver’s licenses. As GLAAD spokesperson Mary Emily O’Hara, who is nonbinary, explained to The New York Times, having a passport that doesn’t match your state-issued ID isn’t just uncomfortable; it also puts you at risk for accusations of carrying falsified documents.

“I just think it’s very confusing to have IDs that don’t say the same thing, and I’m honestly not sure whether I would be breaking the law,” O’Hara told The Times. “So it feels easier just not to even risk it.”

Although the lack of a timeline is disappointing, activists at Lambda Legal are still celebrating the changes as a hard-won victory for plaintiffs like Dana Zzyym, who is intersex and nonbinary. Zzyym has worked with Lambda Legal attorneys for more than six years to obtain an accurate U.S. passport.

“I’ve been at this fight for so long,” they said in a statement. “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. 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.”

Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Probably drinking iced coffee or getting tattooed.