The United States has taken a historic step in identifying the rights of its intersex, non-binary, and gender-neutral population, issuing its first passport with an “X” gender marker.
The U.S. State Department avoided disclosing the identity of the passport holder citing privacy laws. But a national civil rights body, Lambda Legal, announced on its Twitter handle that their client Mx. Dana Zzyym has received the “American X Passport.”
The journey to the landmark judgment that directed the State Department to recognize the identity of gender-neutral citizens on an essential state document hasn’t been an easy one. It has been six years since Lambda Legal first filed a lawsuit representing Mx. Zzyym at the U.S. District Court of Colorado in 2015. A military veteran, Mx. Zzyym, was identified as a male on the birth certificate and a female on the driving license.
Although the court delivered a favorable verdict in 2016, Lambda Legal had to turn to a federal court. This was because the State Department remained passive and stayed away from recognizing a gender marker different from the traditional M (for males) and F (for females).
A 2018 court verdict held the State Department responsible for violation of the law. And in 2020, the case was handed down to a lower court by the Colorado Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
“I anticipate the administrative end of wrapping up the lawsuit should be forthcoming,” said Mr. Paul Castillo, the lawyer who represented Mx. Zzyym on behalf of Lambda Legal.
The New York Times also reported how receiving the passport evoked in Mx. Zzyym a mix of emotions. “It was nice to finally get it after all this time. It was an exciting moment in time when I got to open the envelope. There was a big gasp, a combination of excitement and relief.”
Mx. Zzyym’s legal win has also paved the way for other U.S. citizens who have been waiting for their own “X” marker passports. The State Department hopes to make relevant changes in its systems and forms by early 2022, after which applicants will be able to choose the new option.
“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,” Ned Price from the U.S. State Department said. The U.S. finally joins a list of countries, including Australia, India, Germany, and Canada, that have already been issuing passports with the option of choosing a gender-neutral pronoun.