The new option is meant to help those who don't identify as male or female to have identification that better reflects their, well, identity.
"All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity, and express their gender as they choose," Ahmed Hussen, Canada's minister of immigration, said in a statement. "By introducing an 'X' gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression."
According to a news release from the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada office, on Thursday, the government will begin introducing interim measures that allow citizens to add a statement to their passport indicating that their gender is unspecified. This interim solution, the office says, will be in place until IRCC is able to print official documentation that includes the X option.
According to The New York Times, there are currently at least eight countries that offer a third gender option on passports or other official documentation: Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, and Pakistan.
Though gender-neutral identification isn't yet a nationwide measure in the United States, some states have made steps toward documentation that better represents non-binary individuals. Last year, a county in the state of Oregon granted permission for one Portland resident to legally identify as non-binary, and earlier this year, the District of Columbia began issuing gender-neutral driver's licenses.
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