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A US passport
Americans can choose X as their gender in passports starting April 11Image: Jenny Kane/AP/picture alliance
Human RightsUnited States of America

US introduces gender-neutral passports

March 31, 2022

The US State Department announced that American citizens can soon select "X" for their gender on passports. Many US agencies are changing policy to expand the collection of data on sexual orientation and gender identity.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday that "US citizens will be able to select an X as their gender marker on their US passport application," from April 11.

"The option will become available for other forms of documentation next year," he said in a statement.

The move follows prior steps allowing citizens to select gender on their application without providing related medical documentation. The first US passport marked "X", rather than M/F, was issued in October 2021.

The X distinction is said to accommodate individuals who identify as non-binary, intersex or gender non-conforming.

"For far too long, transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming Americans have faced significant barriers to traveling safely and many have not had their gender identity respected as they travel within the United States and around the world," said the White House.

US agencies announce data collection and security changes

"This is a major step in delivering on the president's commitment to expand access to accurate identification documents for transgender and non-binary Americans," read a White House statement.

The announcement was one of several made this "Transgender Day of Visibility" — something begun by activists in 2014 and proclaimed as such in the US by President Joe Biden last year. 

The State Department announcement, for instance, was followed by the Social Security Administration, which said citizens would also be able to select "X" to identify gender on Social Security cards starting this fall. Social Security cards currently have no gender indicators.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), responsible for airline security screening, will make its checkpoints gender-neutral. The TSA will also "remove gender considerations when validating a traveler's identification at airport security checkpoints" and reduce pat-down screenings.

Hot-button culture war issue in an election year

The White House said it was initiating steps to ease travel, provide resources for transgender children and their families, improve access to government services and benefits, and foster the visibility of transgender individuals in federal data.

The Department of Health and Human Services' new website, for example, provides resources for LGBTQI+ and transgender children and their parents or guardians. 

According to the White House, several more agencies will be announcing the expansion of gender identity and sexual-orientation data collection.

"Every American deserves the freedom to be themselves. But far too many transgender Americans still face systemic barriers, discrimination, and acts of violence," the White House said.

The moves come just one day after the governors of two more states, Arizona and Oklahoma, signed legislation barring transgender athletes from competing in female sports in schools.

Transgender rights are one of several hot-button issues politicians and lobbying groups are using to stoke America's culture wars in an election year.

Thailand's first transgender MP

js/nm (AFP, Reuters) 

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