US issues first passport with gender ‘X’ rather than male or female

Dana Zzyym became the first person to receive the gender X passport after fighting a battle with US authorities for six years.

US issues first passport with gender ‘X’ rather than male or female

The United States has issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation, marking a milestone in the recognition of the rights of people who do not identify as male or female.

The US State Department did not identify the passport recipient, but Dana Zzyym of Fort Collins, Colorado, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview it was their passport.

Zzyym (pronounced Zimm) said the fight for the passport with an accurate gender designation was a way to help the next generation of intersex people win recognition as full citizens with rights.

While Zzyym, 63, said it was thrilling to finally get the passport, the goal was to help the next generation of intersex people win recognition as full citizens with rights, rather than travel the globe, Zzyym said.

“I’m not a problem. I’m a human being. That’s the point,” Zzyym said.

“When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect,” Stern said.

Zzyym was denied a passport for failing to check male or female on an application. According to court documents, Zzyym wrote “intersex” above the boxes marked “M” and “F” and requested an “X” gender marker instead in a separate letter.

Zzyym was born with ambiguous, physical, sexual characteristics but was raised as a boy and had several surgeries that failed to make Zzyym appear fully male, according to court filings.

Zzyym served in the Navy as a male but later came to identify as intersex while working and studying at Colorado State University.

Gender Passports
Dana Zzyym has been fighting for six years for the right to have a passport without having to specify what gender they are (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

The department said in June that it was moving toward adding a third gender marker for non-binary, intersex and gender-nonconforming people but that would take time because of required updates to its computer systems.

In addition, a department official said the passport application and system update with the “X” designation option still awaited approval from the Office of Management and Budget, which signs off on all government forms.

The department now also allows applicants to self-select their gender as male or female, no longer requiring them to provide medical certification if their gender did not match that listed on their other identification documents.

The United States joins a handful of countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Nepal and Canada, in allowing its citizens to designate a gender other than male or female on passports.

Stern said her office planned to talk about the US experience with the change in its interactions around the world and hopes that might help inspire other governments to offer the option.

“We see this as a way of affirming and uplifting the human rights of trans and intersex and gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people everywhere,” she said.

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