Sunday, November 28

The United States issues its first passport with the gender marker ‘X’

The United States has issued its first passport with a gender designation “X”, marking a milestone in recognizing the rights of people who do not identify as male or female, and it hopes to be able to offer the option more broadly on next 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 in a legal battle with the State Department to obtain a passport that would not require Zzyym to lie about gender by choosing male or female.

Zzyym (pronounced Zimm) picked up the UPS package with the passport after receiving an early morning text message and phone call from his lawyer, Paul Castillo of Lambda Legal, who had arrived. Zzyym had stayed up late celebrating 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 gain recognition as full citizens with rights, rather than travel the world, Zzyym said.

“I am not a problem. I’m a human being. That’s the point, “said Zzyym, who has a tattoo on her arm that says,” Never give up, “a reminder of your life goals.

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

Zzyym would like the chance to travel to another advocacy conference once they resume after the pandemic or perhaps go ocean fishing in Costa Rica, but, having a steady income, he says a road trip to Canada to fish might be more feasible.

Advocates, who praised Zzyym’s work, said the United States’ decision to join more than a dozen countries that allow a third-gender option would allow people to travel as if they were authentic and possibly keep them safer in doing so. .

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

The United States’ special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights, Jessica Stern, said the decision aligns government documents with the “lived reality” that there is a broader spectrum of human sexual characteristics than is reflected in the two designations. previous.

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

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

The department now also allows applicants to self-select their gender as male or female, and no longer requires them to provide a medical certification if their gender does not match what is listed on their other identification documents.

Stern said his office plans to talk about the United States’ experience with changing its interactions around the world and hopes that it will help inspire other governments to offer the option.

“We see this as a way to affirm and elevate the human rights of trans, intersex and gender non-conforming and non-binary people everywhere,” she said.

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