Joe Biden ‘remains committed’ to giving non-binary Americans gender-neutral passports

Maggie Baska
·3-min read

Joe Biden could soon order a third “X” gender neutral marker option for passports and all federal documents, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU said LGBT+ advocates have been in talks with the Biden administration about adding “X” gender markers to all federal documents, including passports and social security cards, by executive action. The inclusion of a third gender marker would be a huge move to allow non-binary, gender non-conforming and intersex people to get gender-neutral federal IDs that reflect their identity.

Matt Hill, a White House spokesperson, told The 19th that there was no timeline on the rollout or further comment on how the policy might be implemented. But Hill said president Biden remains committed to issuing gender-neutral IDs, which he promised to do during his presidential election campaign.

In a statement, Hill said: “President Biden remains committed to advancing state and federal efforts that allow transgender and non-binary Americans to update their identification documents to accurately reflect their gender identity, especially as transgender and non-binary people continue to face harassment or are denied access to services because their identification documents don’t affirm their identity.”

Arli Christian, a campaign strategist at the ACLU, called on the administration to issue “X” gender neutral markers across all federal documents within Biden’s first 100 days. Christian told The 19th: “It cuts across so many areas of discrimination against trans people whether we’re talking about being respected in school, safety, employment, housing.”

An ACLU campaign for more inclusive federal IDs has reached almost 34,000 signatures. The campaign also called for self-attestation of gender markers on federal IDs, “meaning you can affirm your own gender identity without needing medical verification”.

Currently, an applicant must submit a letter from a medical doctor attesting to appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition if they wish to update a gender marker on their federal IDs or records.

The ACLU argued: “Not only are such burdensome requirements costly, complicated, an invasion of privacy and entirely unnecessary, but they prevent many trans and non-binary people from getting an updated ID to move through the world.”

The US state department has already been ordered to add ‘X’ gender marker to passports.

In 2020, a federal judge ordered the US State Department to issue a passport with a neutral gender marker of “X” to an intersex Colorado navy veteran Dana Alix Zzyym. Zzyym applied for a passport in 2014, but they were denied because they declined to identify as either male or female. Instead, they wrote “intersex” as their gender.

The US Department of State initially said they could either list Zzyym’s gender as “female” or as “male”if a doctor issued a letter confirming Zzyym’s “new gender”, but not anything else.

Dana Zzyym has been fighting for an X gender passport since 2014.
Dana Zzyym has been fighting for an X gender passport since 2014. (Twitter)

Instead, Zzyym appealed the decision with two affidavits from physicians at a US Department of Veterans Affairs medical centre affirming Zzyym is intersex. But the State Department still refused to issue the gender-neutral passport.

A federal appeals court ordered the State Department to reprocess Zzyym’s passport application. The court said: “We conclude that the State Department acted within its authority but exercised this authority in an arbitrary and capricious manner.”

However, Zzyym still has yet to receive their passport with an “X” gender marker despite the court order.