On the final day of Pride month, the Biden Administration announced that Americans will soon have the option of marking their gender as “X” — instead of “M” or “F” — on their passports and IDs. The new policy will also allow Americans to identify their own gender on these documents, overturning a harmful requirement that mandated trans, intersex, and nonbinary Americans provide “medical certification” in order to procure accurate passports.
“Improved access to accurate passports will have such a profound impact on the lives of trans, intersex, and non-binary folks across the country,” Arli Christian, a campaign strategist with the ACLU, said in a statement. “Despite a hateful wave of anti-trans legislation this year, trans, non-binary, and intersex people know who we are and we need recognition of who we are — not permission. Today’s action demonstrates an important first step in realizing a whole-of-government policy for accurate IDs.”
In 2010, the Obama Administration announced that trans Americans could update their passports so long as they provide a physician’s note confirming they have received “appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.” No specific requirements were given, but the option to self-identify gender will now allow trans individuals to easily obtain correct and up-to-date IDs without going through a complicated, long, and possibly traumatizing process. And the decision also sends a clear message that trans, nonbinary, and intersex people — not their doctors, and not the government — are the authority on their own gender.
Now, nonbinary and intersex people will also be able to identify as “X” without providing any medical documents. The State Department wrote that it will “take time” to implement the new gender marker, but a source within the administration told The 19th News that it will be an option by the end of the year.
Some people, however, have concerns about the “X” marker, and many have pointed out that the most inclusive move would be to do away with the gender marker altogether. Others have said the move is relatively meaningless compared to the action that should be taken against this year's onslaught of transphobic legislation, specifically surrounding the inclusion of transgender women in sports and the GOP’s constant attacks on trans Americans’ healthcare access.
As some advocates celebrate the updated passport policy, they all acknowledge that the Biden Administration still has to go further to protect trans, nonbinary, and intersex people. “The work doesn’t stop here,” Christian told The 19th. “We will keep working with the administration to make sure we see these important changes to gender change policies across all federal agencies.”