The US government has announced that it will allow its citizens to choose a non-binary third gender category other than male or female in their passports.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, announced in a statement on Wednesday that, “The department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.”
He noted, however, that the process of adding an “X” gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents “is technologically complex and will take time for extensive systems updates.”
While this process unfolds, the State Department will start allowing applicants to self-select their gender as “M” or “F” and will no longer require medical certification if an applicant’s self-selected gender does not match the gender on their other citizenship or identity documents.
The progressive new policies will impact millions of individuals in the US, including an estimated 1.2 million non-binary adults, 2 million transgender people, and as many as 5.5 million people who were born intersex.
The announcement was welcomed by human rights groups. “The US government’s move today will have material benefits to trans and non-binary citizens, and also signal the increasing global urgency of recognising gender diversity on official documents as a fundamental right,” commented Kyle Knight, Senior Researcher for the LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch.
More than a third of US states already issue forms of identification with non-binary gender markers and the US has accepted foreign passports from nearly a dozen countries — including Argentina, Denmark, New Zealand, and Canada — with a third gender option for years.
Human Rights Campaign President, Alphonso David expressed his hope that the federal government’s modernisation of its passport policies will “also encourage other nations to adopt inclusive policies that support non-binary and transgender people.”
David continued: “This is an important step towards achieving meaningful progress for LGBTQ equality in America, and will empower and enable millions of citizens to travel domestically and internationally with greater confidence that the United States recognises their gender identity.”