The United States has issued its first U.S. passport with an “X” gender marker, acknowledging the rights of people who do not identify as male or female, the Department of State said Wednesday.
The department said in a statement that it would expand the gender-neutral option to all applicants next year after it updates its policies on passports and U.S. citizenship certificates for children born abroad. It said it was working with other government agencies to “ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity.”
A department spokesperson declined to identify the recipient of the passport, citing privacy considerations. Lambda Legal, a national civil rights organization, said Wednesday that the passport had been issued to Dana Zzyym, a military veteran who is intersex.
In 2015, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Colorado against the Department of State on Zzyym’s behalf after Zzyym was denied a gender-neutral passport. Zzyym’s original birth certificate identified them as male, and their driver’s license listed them as female, according to court documents.
The court ruled in favor of Zzyym in 2016, but Lambda Legal said in a statement that it asked a federal court to reopen the case because the Department of State continued to “refuse to recognize a gender marker that is neither ‘M’ (male) nor ‘F’ (female).”
In 2018, a judge again found that the Department of State had violated the law, and last year the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Colorado sent the case back to the lower court, Paul Castillo, a Lambda Legal lawyer working with Zzyym, said.
In a telephone interview, Zzyym, 63, said the envelope with the passport arrived at their home in Fort Collins, Colorado, while they were out Wednesday morning. The passport has the usual information — name, place of birth, expiration date — but there was the long-awaited “X” in the section below “sex.”
“I feel good about standing up for myself and other intersex and nonconforming people,” Zzyym said.
The Department of State said in its statement Wednesday that the new gender-neutral option was part of a “commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity and equality of all people.”
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