The State Department reported on Wednesday that the United States is now issuing its first passport with the “X” gender designation and is expected to offer the option to more citizens as of next year.
The new gender identification mark is a significant milestone for the country to recognize the rights of those who don’t conform to traditional genders. The most notable recipient of the new passport is 63-year-old Dana Zzyym, an intersex activist from Fort Collins, Colorado, who spoke with The Associated Press via telephone interview and said they received it.
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Zzyym has been in legal battles since 2015 to obtain a passport that did not require them to lie about their gender by dubbing themself as male or female, a case many are struggling with. After celebrating Intersex Awareness Day, Zzyym was pleased to receive a UPS package with their new passport.
In the interview with The Associated Press, Zzyym said it was thrilling to receive the passport they’ve been waiting for. Still, the broader goal was to help the next generation of intersex people gain full recognization and execute their rights to travel the globe with dignity and pride.
“Intersex, nonbinary, and transgender people need identity documents that accurately reflect who we are, and having mismatched documents can create problems with safety and visibility,” said Mary Emily O’Hara to The Associated Press. O’Hara works with GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) media advocacy organization.
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Back in June, the State Department said that it was in the process of adding a third gender mark for nonbinary, intersex, and gender-nonconforming people, but it took some time for its computer systems to update. Additionally, it’s said that the passport application and system update with the “X” gender mark option is still awaiting consent from the Office of Management and Budget.
The department not only signs all government forms but now allows those applying to select their gender as male or female without requiring medical certifications to confirm that their gender matches what’s listed on other official documents. However, this is only helpful for those who identify as male or female.
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The U.S. special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights, Jessica Stern, said her office hopes that the new U.S. experience and changes in interactions will make a global impact. She strives to inspire other governments to follow and support the addition of a third gender designation.
“We see this as a way of affirming and uplifting the human rights of trans and intersex and gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people everywhere,” she said to The Associated Press.