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In a First, US State Dept Issues Passport with 'X', Non-Binary Gender Option

Eleven countries, including India and Nepal, provide the option to select third gender on one's passport.

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In a First, US State Dept Issues Passport with 'X', Non-Binary Gender Option
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In a historic step, the United States (US) State Department has issued a passport with 'X' written in the gender column. 'X' stands for those who identify as non-binary. The option of selecting an 'X' (non-binary) alongside 'M' (male) and 'F' (female) will be routinely available from early 2022 for Americans on passports and birth certificates.

This is the first time a US passport has been issued acknowledging a third gender. Previously, medical certificates were mandatory to change the gender of a person from what it is on the birth certificate.

In a statement by the US State Department, spokesperson Ned Price reiterated "the Department of State's commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people – including LGBTQI+ persons".

While Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had promised to address the issue in June, he had noted that there are technological hurdles which need to be sorted first by updating systems which might take time.

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Zzyym v Pompeo

While 11 other nations, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Canada, New Zealand, and Germany, have an "other" option for the third gender, the struggle among Americans, according to Firstpost, stems from the legal battle that Dana Zzyym, an intersex and non-binary Colorado resident, had waged.

Zzyym who at birth was identified as a man and their driving licence marked as female, was denied an X passport which made them go to court in 2015. Even after the court ruling in Zzyym's favour, the case was reopened in 2017 when the US State Department was found in violation of the law.

The department's announcement was made on the week of Intersex Awareness Day, which falls on 26 October, and Zzyym was finally allowed to pick up their passport with an 'X' on it.

Zzyyam was thrilled, according to AP, and so were other advocates of the LGBTQ+ community. Jessica Stern, the US Envoy for LGBTQ+ rights, called the move celebratory as she told AP, "When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect."

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has, too, in a statement expressed praise for the step taken by the US State Department. According to Firstpost, the union also extended support to the administration to work together to make sure gender identities are accurate and the LGBTQ+ community members get their due.

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Today is a milestone for the United States as the State Department issues the first passport with an ‘X’ designation, and we are so glad that soon all transgender, intersex, and non-binary people will be able to access an accurate marker on their passport. The ACLU will continue to work with the Biden administration so that accurate gender markers are available on IDs and records across the federal government.
ACLU in a statement

President Joe Biden has also on multiple occasions reiterated his commitment to the issues of the LGBTQ+ community.

(With inputs from AFP, AP, and Firstpost.)

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