United States issues first passport with gender marker “X”

The United States issued its first passport with a gender designation “X”, marking an important step in recognizing the rights of people who do not identify as male or female, and hopes to be able to offer the option more widely thereafter. year, the State Department said Wednesday.

The department did not identify the recipient of the passport, but Dana Zzyym, an intersex activist from Fort Collins, Colorado, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that they received it. Since 2015, Zzyym, who prefers a gender-neutral pronoun, has been waging a legal battle with the State Department to obtain a passport that did not require Zzyym to lie about gender by choosing a man or a woman.

Zzyym (pronounced Zimm) picked up the UPS package with the passport after receiving an early morning text and phone call from their lawyer, Paul Castillo of Lambda Legal, stating that it had arrived. Zzyym had stayed up late to celebrate Intersex Awareness Day with two visiting activists.

While Zzyym, 63, said it was exciting to finally get the passport, the goal was to help the next generation of intersex people be recognized as full citizens with rights, rather than to travel the world, Zzyym said.

“ I am not a problem. I am a human being. That’s the goal, ” said Zzyym, who has a tattoo on his arm that reads, ” Never give up, ” a reminder of goals in life.

Zzyym was born with ambiguous physical sex characteristics, but was raised as a boy and underwent several surgeries that failed to make Zzyym appear fully masculine, according to court records. Zzyym served in the Navy as a male, but later identified as intersex while working and studying at Colorado State University. The State Department’s denial of Zzyym’s passport prevented Zzyym from attending two meetings of the Intersex International Organization.

Zzyym would love the chance to go to another advocacy conference once they resume after the pandemic or maybe go sea fishing in Costa Rica but, being on a fixed income, says a road trip to the Canada for fishing might be more feasible.

Advocates, who praised Zzyym’s work, said the US decision to join more than a dozen countries that allow a third-sex option would allow people to travel like themselves and possibly keep them safe.

“Intersex, non-binary and transgender people need identity documents that accurately reflect who we are, and having incompatible documents can create security and visibility issues,” said Mary Emily O ‘ GLAAD’s Hara, the tallest lesbian, gay and bisexual in the world. , organization for the defense of transgender and queer media (LGBTQ),

U.S. Special Diplomatic Envoy for LGBTQ Rights Jessica Stern said the decision brings government documents into line with the “lived reality” that there is a wider range of human sexual characteristics than what which is reflected in the previous two designations.

“When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with more dignity and respect,” Stern said.

The State Department said in June it was preparing to add a third gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-compliant people, but that would take time due to necessary updates to its systems. computer science. In addition, a ministry official said the passport application and updating the system with the designation option “X” is still awaiting approval from the Office of Management and Budget, which approves all government forms. .

The department now allows applicants to choose their gender as male or female themselves, no longer requiring them to provide medical certification if their gender does not match that stated on their other identification documents.

Stern said his office plans to talk about the American experience with changing its interactions around the world and hopes that may help inspire other governments to offer the option.

“We see this as a way to assert and uplift the human rights of trans and intersex and gender nonconforming and nonbinary people everywhere,” she said.


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