In what State Department special envoy for LGBTQ rights Jessica Stern calls a "momentous step," Americans will be able to select "X" as their gender on passport applications starting April 11. Stern says adding the gender-neutral option moves the US toward "ensuring that our administrative systems account for the diversity of gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics among US citizens," NBC News reports. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last year that the department was working toward adding a "gender marker for nonbinary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons," but no date was set at the time for what Blinken called a "technologically complex" change.
The change was announced Wednesday, the day before the annual Transgender Day of Visibility. "The 'X' means 'unspecified' or 'another gender identity,'" Stern says. Applicants will be allowed to select "X" no matter what gender is listed on other documents, officials say. The first X passport was issued last fall to intersex Colorado resident Dana Zzyym, who'd lobbied for the change for years, CBS News reports. Other new measures to be announced Thursday include new gender-neutral Transportation Security Administration scanners. Advocates say the current gender-based system causes a disproportionate number of transgender travelers to be selected for invasive searches.
President Biden is planning to release a video message to transgender Americans Thursday, the AP reports. "Transgender Americans continue to face discrimination, harassment, and barriers to opportunity,” Biden wrote in a proclamation. "In the past year, hundreds of anti-transgender bills in states were proposed across America, most of them targeting transgender kids. The onslaught has continued this year. These bills are wrong." (Read more transgender stories.)