The US has issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation for people who don’t identify as male or female. The country expects to be able to offer the option more broadly next year, said the state department.
The US now joins a handful of countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Nepal and Canada, that allow its citizens to designate a gender other than male or female on their passports. The state department, however, did not release the name of the individual that has received the new passport with the gender X designation for confidentiality reasons.
The move is a milestone in the recognition of the rights of people who don’t identify as male or female, said US special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ+ rights Jessica Stern, in an interview with the Guardian. She described the move as "historic and celebratory", and a matter of "dignity and respect".
Stern believes that the move brings government documents in line with the “lived reality” that there is a wider spectrum of human sex characteristics than is reflected in the previous two designations. “When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect,” Stern said.
The US now allows applicants to self-select their gender, no longer requiring medical certification if their gender did not match that listed on their other identification documents. And back in June earlier this year, it announced that it was moving toward adding a third gender marker for non-binary, intersex and gender-nonconforming people, but highlighted that it would take time.
The state department now expects to offer the Gender X option more broadly next year. However, the full passport application and system update with the “X” designation option still need to be approved by the state department’s Office of Management and Budget, according to a department official.