The time for gender neutral passports is finally here. The Department of State announced that people can have a passport issued with an “X” gender marking, signifying an unspecified or other gender, starting April 11. The announcement also stated that this option will be available for other federal government documents, including emergency passports and consular reports of birth abroad, by late 2023.
With this welcome change to gender markings, the Department of State updated its LGBTQ+ travel information to reflect the change. The change may not be recognized by countries who do not recognize the gender neutral marker, so it is best to check with the foreign embassy before travel, according to the Department of State.
To apply for a gender neutral passport, visit the Department of State website here.
Gender neutral passports may be easily available to everyone now, but this is not going to be the first time a gender neutral passport was issued. The State Department issued a passport with an “X” gender marking last year to Dana Zzyym, an intersex activist, according to the Associated Press. Their passport came after their legal battle about not wanting to lie about their gender on their documentation.
This move toward gender neutral passports is an important change, especially for nonbinary, intersex and transgender people. Research shows that people who have their gender affirmed can help them thrive and reduce suicide ideation and attempts among transgender people, according to The Trevor Project. Not affirming one’s gender can lead to the person feeling alone, stigmatized and undervalued.
Along with the change from the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security also announced some changes to align with the passport change. Homeland Security will be updating its Advanced Imaging Technology to be gender neutral, which will help reduce false alarm rates and pat downs. The Transportation Security Administration will be removing gender based considerations from its checkpoint standard operating procedures.
With harmful rhetoric of transgender and other LGBTQ+ people being portrayed as predators and legislation being passed against LGBTQ+ people, this is a positive change among the negatives that seem to be taking place throughout the country.