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The U.S. issues the first passport with a nonbinary gender 'X' option

The U.S. State Department will begin issuing passports with a gender X option for people who identify as nonbinary, intersex and gender non-conforming.
The U.S. State Department will begin issuing passports with a gender X option for people who identify as nonbinary, intersex and gender non-conforming.

The U.S. State Department has issued the first official passport with the gender marker "X," a change the Biden administration promised this year in order to make the documents more inclusive for people who identify as nonbinary, intersex or gender-nonconforming.

The department will be able to offer the option to all passport applicants once it finishes updating its systems and forms by early 2022, according to State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

"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," Price said in a statement on Wednesday.

The department will update the public via its website about when the gender "X" marker will be available to all passport applicants.

The change comes after a federal discrimination lawsuit

This year, the department announced it would make the change following a lawsuit by Dana Zzyym, an intersex and nonbinary Colorado resident who argued it was impossible to get a passport with their accurate gender because "female" and "male" were the only options.

"It's great news for all intersex and nonbinary people, because it basically says that we can get our passports," Zzyym told NPR in June. "We don't have to lie to get our passports. We can just be ourselves."

Dana Zzyym, right, the plaintiff in a federal discrimination lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal against the U.S. State Department seeking more gender options for passports, responds to a question while Paul D. Castillo, staff attorney in the South Central Regional Office of Lambda Legal in Dallas, looks on during a news conference about the case Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Denver.
David Zalubowski / AP
Dana Zzyym (right), the plaintiff in a federal discrimination lawsuit seeking more gender options on passports, responds to a question about the case during a news conference on Oct. 26, 2015.

Lambda Legal, which represented Zzyym in their lawsuit, announced on Wednesday that it was Zzyym who received the first passport with a gender "X" marker.

The U.S. joins a growing list of nations that are changing their passports

Also, in June the department announced that it would immediately start allowing applicants to select "M" or "F" as their gender without providing any medical certification if their choice doesn't match their gender on other documents.

The policy changes also apply to Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs).

The change brings the U.S. in line with several other nations that already issue passports with gender markers other than just "F" or "M," including Canada, Australia, India, Malta, Nepal and New Zealand.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.