The U.S. State Department confirmed on Wednesday that it had issued its first ever passport which doesn’t state whether the holder is male or female. Instead, the passport has an ‘X’ gender marker to signify that the holder is either non-binary, intersex or gender non-conforming.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced plans to offer U.S. passports with an ‘X’ gender market back in June but a full rollout isn’t expected until some time in 2022. U.S. citizens are still unable to request an ‘X’ gender market while the necessary systems are updated.
“The process pf adding a gender market for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents is technologially complex and will take time for extensive system updates,” Blinken warned.
The Department said it was working to offer the ‘X’ gender marker “after considerable consultation with like-minded gopvernments who have undertaken similar changes”.
“We also value our continued engagement with the LGBTQI+ community, which will inform out approach and positions moving forward,” Blinken continued.
The State Department has already changed its rules so that passport applicants can self-select their gender of male or female without requiring medical certification. Applicants can choose the sex they wish to be displayed on their passport without it needing to match other official documents.
The change comes nearly 20 years after Australia issued the first ever passport with an ‘X’ gender marker back in 2003. A growing list of countries including Canada, Belgium, and Iceland also allow passport holders to choose an ‘X’ gender marker.
In the U.S., United Airlines became the first domestic carrier to give passengers non-binary booking options in 2019 including the ‘X’ marker and ‘U’ for undisclosed. United updates its policy after the changes were approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).