In what has been called a historic milestone in the rights and recognition of people who are nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, or don’t identify as either male or female, the U.S. State Department has carried through on its promise and began issuing passports with an “X” gender designation.
Although the government agency did not identify the recipient who received it, Colleen Slevin of the Associated Press reported that Dana Zzyym, an intersex activist from Fort Collins, Colorado, was the first person to receive a passport with the newly established “X” gender designation.
According to Slevin, “since 2015, Zzyym, who prefers a gender-neutral pronoun, has been in a legal battle with the State Department to obtain a passport that did not require Zzyym to lie about gender by picking either male or female.”
Zzyym told Slevin that they were thrilled to finally have the passport, not because of any upcoming travel plans but because helping make gender-neutral passports possible will help increase rights and recognition for future generations of intersex individuals.
Explaining why they had fought so hard and for so long for the important recognition, Zzyym said, “I’m not a problem. I’m a human being. That’s the point.”
With the United States’ recent decision to grant gender-neutral passports, the country joins over a dozen nations around the globe allowing a nonbinary designation on an individual’s official travel documents.
In a statement celebrating the occasion, Mary Emily O’Hara of GLAAD said, “Intersex, nonbinary, and transgender people need identity documents that accurately reflect who we are, and having mismatched documents can create problems with safety and visibility.”
Jessica Stern, the U.S. special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights, echoed that sentiment, telling AP that “when a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect.”
“We see this as a way of affirming and uplifting the human rights of trans and intersex and gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people everywhere,” Stern said.