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U.S. Passports Will Soon Allow Third Gender Option

Starting April 11, the State Department will allow citizens to elect the “X” gender marker on passports, and other forms of documentation in 2023. The “X” is for unspecified or other gender identities besides male or female.

(TNS) — Starting April 11, U.S. citizens will now be able to choose an “X” as a third gender option on their passport.

The U.S. State Department is the first federal agency to offer the “X” gender marker on an identity document, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement. The announcement came as the White House marked International Transgender Day of Visibility with a handful of policy changes.

The option will become available on other forms of documentation in 2023, officials said.

The “X” gender marker will be defined as “unspecified or another gender identity” to respect “individuals’ privacy while advancing inclusion,” Blinken said.

But the Biden administration warned that “while the United States Government issues passports with the X gender marker, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries” and travelers could face “entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the X gender marker.”

The announcement comes as the White House repeatedly condemns what it calls ”anti-transgender” legislation that have been introduced and passed in several state legislatures.

“As the President has said, these bills are government overreach at its worst, they are un-American, and they must stop,” the White House said.

About 85 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth said that recent debates about state laws regarding transgender people — including bans on transgender students playing in sports teams that align with their gender identity — have “impacted their mental health negatively,” according to a January poll from The Trevor Project.

The nonprofit, which focuses on suicide prevention in LGBTQ youth, found in a 2021 survey that 52 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth said they considered suicide, with 20 percent reporting an attempted suicide.

In a video statement on March 31, President Joe Biden said that the “onslaught of anti-transgender state laws attacking you and your families is simply wrong.”

“This administration is standing up for you against all these hateful bills. And we’re committed to advancing transgender equality in the classroom, on the playing field, at work, in our military, in our housing and healthcare systems — everywhere,” Biden added.

Advocates have been pushing for years to add a more inclusive gender marker and for federal IDs to more accurately reflect one’s gender identity, the American Civil Liberties Union said, according to previous reporting by McClatchy News.

Arli Christian, ACLU campaign strategist, said in a 2021 statement that the changes are an “important step forward” and that “improved access to accurate passports will have such a profound impact on the lives of trans, intersex and non-binary folks across the country.”

The Human Rights Campaign said in a 2021 statement the policy will affect millions of U.S. residents, “including 1.2 million non-binary adults, 2 million transgender people and as many as 5.5 million people who were born intersex.”

A 2021 Gallup poll found that a record-setting 5.6 percent of Americans identified themselves as part of the LGBTQ community, including 0.6 percent in the U.S. who identified as transgender.

There is a generational split, however, with 1.8 percent of Generation Z — those born between 1997 and 2002 — and 1.2 percent of millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996 — saying they are transgender.

The Department of Homeland Security also unveiled reforms aimed at improving the travel experience for transgender Americans, including:

  • New TSA technology will reduce pat-downs for travelers.
  • The government will partner with domestic airlines to promote the use and acceptance of the “X” gender marker.
  • Gender considerations will be removed when validating a traveler’s ID at airport security checkpoints.
  • TSA PreCheck and Trusted Travelers Programs will be updated to include “X” gender markers.

The Biden administration also announced new actions it said will provide resources for transgender kids and their families, improve equal access to federal services and benefits, and advance visibility and inclusion in federal data.

The White House announcements come after Biden declared 2021 as the “deadliest year on record for transgender Americans” — with at least 46 individuals killed in “horrifying acts of violence.”

©2022 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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