On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department announced it had issued the first passport with an X gender marker for “non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons,” a milestone for the rights of people who don’t identify as either male or female.
“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,” Ned Price, a department spokesperson, said in the statement.
The first X passport was issued to Dana Zzyym, a 66-year-old intersex activist who sued the government after being denied a passport because they checked neither M nor F on the passport form.
When will the X designation be widely available?
The X option on passports is expected to be be widely available early in 2022, according to the State Department. The wait is largely due to technical concerns: Adding a third gender option requires extensive updates to the government’s computer systems.
Who will be eligible for the new passport designation?
Gender designation on passports is entirely self-selected, so anyone who wants to be regarded as X, rather than M or F, on their passports will be able to pick that option once the forms are changed and the computers updated.
How to change your gender designation on your passport
If you are applying for a new passport, you currently can select either M or F on application forms, even if the gender you select doesn’t match the gender listed on supporting documentation, such as your birth certificate or state ID. The X designation will work the same way.
If you already hold a passport, you can apply for a new passport with your chosen gender and use your previous passport as part of your supporting documentation. The U.S. no longer requires any medical documentation for gender changes on passports.
What other countries allow a third gender designation on passports?
Currently, 15 countries allow citizens to designates something other than male or female on passports, including New Zealand, Nepal, and Canada.
Special shout-out to The Netherlands: They’ve allowed a third gender identification on passports since 2018, and are working on removing gender-identification entirely from all official documents.