Celebrating the Release of First Non-Binary U.S. Passport

October 27, 2021 – The Council for Global Equality today celebrates the State Department’s announcement that it has issued the very first U.S. passport with a non-binary X gender marker. This is a historic step to affirm the dignity and protection of intersex and non-binary U.S. citizens as they travel abroad. The passport was issued to pioneering activist Dana Zzyym, who called the passport “liberating.”

Special Envoy Jessica Stern, the State Department’s new Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons, noted in an interview with The Washington Blade that “when a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect.” They also are safer and more secure.

The State Department will begin offering the option of male, female, and X gender markers as standard procedure for all passport applicants beginning in early 2022, once the State Department’s consular forms and systems have been updated.

This follows an announcement by Secretary of State Blinken earlier in the year that the State Department would update its procedures to allow U.S. passport applicants to self-select their gender as male or female, without requiring medical or psychological certification if an applicant’s self-selected gender does not match the gender indicated on their other citizenship or identity documents. That was an important step to affirm the dignity and safety of transgender Americans. Today’s announcement takes an additional step to respect and protect intersex and non-binary Americans.

Special Envoy Stern remarked that “this is an excellent example of leading by example,” as it helps set a new standard for other countries to follow. To date, only a handful of countries have offered non-binary gender markers on their passports, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Argentina. Hopefully the U.S. announcement will encourage more countries to follow this lead.

As we celebrate this milestone, it is important to recognize the long fight of Dana Zzyym and other non-binary and intersex activists who have fought for years in the courts and in the court of public opinion to achieve this landmark decision. Today would not have been possible without their tenacity and determination and our country is better for it.

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