US expands gender passport identification options

Jul 1, 2021

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U.S. passport holders who identify as nonbinary, intersex or gender-nonconforming will now have the option to officially self-identify as such on their passports, the Department of State announced on Wednesday, June 30.

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Additionally, the department will no longer require medical certification during the passport application process if an applicant’s self-selected gender differs from the gender on other citizenship or identity documents, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a press statement.

“The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for nonbinary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or CRBA,” said Blinken, who also noted that this is a “technologically complex process” that will take time.

Related: Should you apply for or renew a passport right now? Everything you need to know

Currently, the only gender options available for U.S. passport holders are M and F, for male and female respectively, and the third option will now be marked by an X to allow for gender-neutral individuals, as reported by the New York Times, which also noted that the U.S. will be joining more than six other countries already operating under similar measures, including Canada.

Related: When and how to renew your passport

“In line with the (Biden) Administration’s commitment to re-engage with allies and partners, the Department is taking these steps after considerable consultation with like-minded governments who have undertaken similar changes,” Blinken continued. “We also value our continued engagement with the LGBTQI+ community, which will inform our approach and positions moving forward. With this action, I express our enduring commitment to the LGBTQI+ community today and moving forward.”

Related: Why I renewed our passports in the midst of a pandemic and how long it took

The department’s decision acknowledges the 20 states plus Washington, D.C., that already allow residents to mark M, F or X on their driver’s license, including Arkansas, Minnesota and California, as well as the Northeast and Pacific Northwest, among others.

Featured photo courtesy of Konrad Musial/EyeEm.

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