The Department of State will soon begin issuing U.S. passports with an “X” gender marker to better represent nonbinary, intersex and gender non-conforming Americans, the agency announced Thursday.
The option, announced during Transgender Day of Visibility, will be rolled out starting April 11. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the shift will “better serve all U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender identity.”
“We continue to work closely with our federal government partners to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity,” he said in a statement Thursday. “We reaffirm our commitment to promoting and protecting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all persons – including transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming persons around the world.”
The move follows the agency’s June decision to let Americans select their genders on passport applications without having to submit medical documents. The Department of Homeland Security also said Thursday it would improve its screening measures and update its TSA PreCheck program to better serve travelers, saying this would allow screenings to be conducted “in a manner that respects the dignity of each individual.”
“The new measures announced today are part of a whole-of-government effort to promote equity and inclusion in all our programs and processes,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.
Reuters notes that the Social Security Administration will also allow U.S. citizens to select and add their genders to Social Security cards beginning this fall. (The cards do not currently include gender indicators).
The State Department issued its first passport with an “X” gender marker in October. Lambda Legal confirmed later that it was issued to Dana Zzyym, an intersex Coloradan who had sued the agency in 2015 after it refused to issue the document with the marker, NBC News reported.
“I almost burst into tears when I opened the envelope, pulled out my new passport, and saw the ‘X’ stamped boldly under ‘sex,’” Zzyym said at the time.