Gender is an identification marker that is usually present in all official documents like passports, ID cards, and driving licences. In most countries, you only have the option of choosing between male and female, but not every individual conforms to the gender binary.
Such was the case with Dana Zzyym, who identifies neither as male nor female, and who prefers a gender-neutral pronoun. While applying for their passport, they refused to tick one of the two boxes and instead wrote ‘intersex.’ Their application was hence rejected, and so they followed up with a letter requesting for the option to fill in the box with ‘x’ instead. According to Oregon Live, Zzyym has been in a legal battle with the State Department since 2015 to have a gender-neutral marker in their passport and six years later, they have finally won.
This is the first ever gender-neutral passport to be issued in the United States, paving the way for many other individuals who want to be identified with the same designation.
Yesterday morning, 28 October, Ned Price, representative from the State Department, confirmed that from early 2022, the third gender marker would be available to all applicants in the US. He said in a statement:
I want to reiterate, on the occasion of this passport issuance, the Department of State's commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people – including LGBTQI+ persons.
In addition, applicants will no longer be required to provide a medical certificate if they do not have other identification documents that match their selected gender. These two changes have been considered a massive victory for the community. Jessica Stern, US special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights, said:
When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect.
We see this as a way of affirming and uplifting the human rights of trans and intersex and gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people everywhere.