The U.S. will offer Americans seeking a passport to use an “X” gender marker that is defined as “unspecified or another gender identity,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Thursday.
The State Department announced last June that passport applications would be allowed to select their gender as “M” or “F” without having to provide medical certification if that gender did not match their other documentation, which was the previous policy.
“Starting on April 11, U.S. citizens will be able to select an X as their gender marker on their U.S. passport application, and the option will become available for other forms of documentation next year,” Blinken said in a statement.
X gender passports are introduced after “thoughtful consideration”
Blinken added that the department has “solicited public feedback” on the policy, consulted other countries that have already implemented it, and worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics on research.
“After thoughtful consideration of the research conducted and feedback from community members, we concluded that the definition of the X gender marker on State Department public forms will be ‘Unspecified or another gender identity.’ This definition is respectful of individuals’ privacy while advancing inclusion,” announced Blinken.
The announcement comes on International Transgender Day of Visibility and as the Biden administration proceeds with efforts to implement gender-inclusive policies, CNN says.
International Transgender Day of Visibility aims to celebrate the achievements of transgender rights activists and to increase awareness of the ongoing challenges transgender and gender-nonconforming people face.
Politico notes that the Department of Homeland Security announced earlier this week that the Transportation Security Administration will use “enhanced screening technology” to replace “the current, gender-based system” used in body scanners.
The White House said that these upgrades “will improve the customer experience of transgender travelers who have previously been required to undergo additional screening due to alarms in sensitive areas.”
According to the White House, the TSA is “working closely with air carriers across the nation to promote the use and acceptance of the ‘X’ gender marker,” and has “updated its standard operating procedures to remove gender considerations when validating a traveler’s identification at airport security checkpoints.”