The US has announced it is introducing gender-neutral passports from next month, giving Americans the option to mark down ‘X’ as their gender rather than male or female.
Last June, the State Department said people could select their gender as ‘M’ or ‘F’ without having to provide medical certification if the gender did not match with their other documentation, as per a previous policy. But now Americans will also be able to select ‘X’ as their gender marker when applying for their passport – with the same option becoming available to other forms of documentation next year.
The new option will be brought in by the Biden administration on 11 April, in a bid to make travel a ‘smooth experience’ for all passport holders.
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the ‘milestone’ change would help the state ‘better serve all US citizens, regardless of their gender identity’.
"The Department is setting a precedent as the first federal government agency to offer the X gender marker on an identity document. When we announced in June that we had begun this work, we referred to the addition of a third gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals," he said.
“Since then, we have solicited public feedback through the notice and comment process we undertook to update our passport application forms. We have also continued to consult with partner countries who have already taken this important step to recognize gender diversity on their passports.
“Finally, we have worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics to conduct qualitative research on how to define an X gender marker, interviewing a demographically diverse group of individuals, including many members of the LGBTQI+ community.
“After thoughtful consideration of the research conducted and feedback from community members, we concluded that the definition of the X gender marker on State Department public forms will be ‘Unspecified or another gender identity'."
Blinken said the definition was ‘respectful of individuals’ privacy while advancing inclusion’.
He added that the Biden administration continues to ‘work closely with our federal government partners to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity’, and that it was committed to ‘promoting and protecting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all persons – including transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming persons around the world’.
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