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The US State Department issued its first passport with an 'X' gender marker

The new passports are part of the Department's commitment to gender-inclusive policies. Those interested can apply for the new passports in early 2022.

The US State Department issued its first passport with an 'X' gender marker
Image Source: Portrait Of A Smiling Young Woman Holding Passport - stock photo. Photo taken in Columbus, United States. (Abby Kamagate / EyeEm / Getty Images)

In what has been considered a move towards greater gender inclusivity, the State Department of the United States has issued its first passport with an 'X' gender marker. The announcement was made on Wednesday, with the Department reaffirming its commitment to introducing and implementing gender-inclusive policies. This particular policy move was first introduced in June this year, when the Department shared it would permit all applicants to self-select their gender marker for passports. Applicants filing for a new passport through the updated procedure will no longer have to provide medical certification if they choose to select 'X' as their gender marker, CNN reports.


Revealing the new passports, State department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement, "As the Secretary announced in June, the Department is moving towards adding an 'X' gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a US passport or CRBA [a document that proves your child's citizenship or nationality]. I want to reiterate, on the occasion of this passport issuance, the Department of State's commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people, including LGBTQI+ persons." The policy decision to move away from providing medical certifications if an applicant's self-selected sex marker does not match the sex listed on other official identity documents is one of the most progressive in the country.


The passport option with the new gender marker will be available to all passport applicants once the Department completes its updates of all systems and forms. Therefore, those who wish to apply for an 'X' gender marker can expect to do so in early 2022, Price added. The US has thus joined several other countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, offering similar gender-inclusive options for passports. In addition to this, at least 20 states across the nation, as well as Washington, DC, have implemented similar changes to state documentation. For instance, the state of New Jersey enacted the change in April after postponing the move last year due as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.


For years now, trans and non-binary activists have highlighted how inaccurate IDs and other documentation leads to potential harassment, discrimination, and violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, the National Center for Transgender Equality has long fought against restrictive voter ID laws that take away a trans person's Constitutional right to vote. "Having ID that doesn’t match your gender identity or presentation should not affect your right to cast a ballot, in any state," the group notes on its website. "But with increasingly strict voter ID laws, trans people may face barriers—both because of difficulties in obtaining an ID that’s accepted, or because they might run into bias or misunderstandings of the law when it comes to their gender.
As the fight against restrictive voter ID and other voter suppression laws continues, knowing your rights can help avoid or solve problems at the polls. We want everyone to get out and vote!"


In this context, the State Department once again expressed its commitment to ensuring the LGBTQ+ community's rights. On Monday, the Department released a statement recognizing Intersex Awareness Day. It claimed that it was US policy to end "violence and discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics."


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