U.S. Passports to Add a Third Gender Option
U.S. travelers can now select the gender marker they would like displayed on their passports.
On June 30, the last day of Pride month, the State Department announced its plan to make it easier for transgender and nonbinary people to move around the planet.
Travelers will no longer be required to provide medical certification to change their gender marker, according to the U.S. government's new policy. Going forward, they will be able to self-select on the appropriate forms.
Existing passport holders will be able to request a new passport with a different gender marker, while new applicants will be able to choose their marker when applying for their first passport. Travelers who were in the process of transitioning previously received limited-validity passports, which the State Department is also phasing out.
While it's not an option yet, the State Department says it is working on a gender marker for nonbinary, intersex, and others who don't conform to traditional gender roles. It's unclear when that option will become available. "The process of adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents is complex and will take time," the State Department writes.
Mary Emily O'Hara, a spokesperson for GLAAD who lives in a state that allows for an X gender marker, told The New York Times they found it confusing to have a government issued-ID that didn't match their passport.
"I'm honestly not sure whether I would be breaking the law," O'Hara told the paper, noting that it's been years since they've left the U.S. Now, O'Hara is considering a trip to Costa Rica.
The State Department also took the step of specifying that the gender on a traveler's passport doesn't have to match that on other documents. It did, however, say photos submitted for passports should look similar to those submitted for other documents.