Here at Daily Kos, we’ve covered the ongoing slew of anti-trans legislation pushed by state lawmakers. Republicans have been more than happy to target trans folks when it comes to medical care, sports, and even birth certificates and other legal documents. While ongoing coverage of that hate and discrimination is undoubtedly valuable, it’s nice to celebrate actual progress when it happens, too.
The most recent example comes to us on the federal level, and it’s a pretty big deal. As reported by NPR, the U.S. State Department has already issued its first official passport with “X” as the gender marker. You might recall that the Biden administration pledged to make official documents more inclusive for nonbinary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming folks back in the summer of 2021. All passport applicants will have the “X” option by early 2022—and the person who identified themselves as the first holder of a U.S. passport with the X marker is really, really excited for themself and others.
Notably, the state department also announced passport applicants will be able to select X, along with M or F, without having to show medical documents or certifications to back their gender identity if it doesn’t match what appears on other forms of ID. So, for example, if someone’s state ID or license lists their gender as female, but they apply for their passport as M or X, they wouldn’t need to gather a certified letter from a physician or psychiatrist as “proof” or anything.
Why does this matter so much? When people’s gender marker differs from their actual identity, it can create situations that range from uncomfortable to legitimately dangerous. Inadvertently being “outed” can create a deep amount of stress, fear, and humiliation. It can also create issues when people are trying to travel (especially as related to immigration), getting paperwork set up for a new job, school, or housing, and when it comes to handling money, like through banks and paychecks.
The State Department has not identified who the first passport with the “X” marker went to, but Lambda Legal said one of its clients, Dana Zzyym, an intersex and nonbinary veteran, was the recipient, as reported by Reuters.
“I almost burst into tears when I opened the envelope, pulled out my new passport, and saw the ‘X’ stamped boldly under ‘sex,'” Zzyym shared in a statement, adding it took six years to have an accurate passport. Zzymm described the passport as “liberating.”
In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Zzyym again confirmed it was their passport. Zzyym told the AP they were initially denied a passport after they refused to check the box for male or female on the passport application and instead wrote in “intersex.” Zzyym wrote a letter asking for the “X” marker, and now, after years of effort and activism, they finally have it.
A number of other countries already offer a gender-neutral option, including Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, India, Pakistan, and Nepal.