Nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming Americans will be able to choose a gender option other than “male” or “female” when applying for a U.S. passport, the State Department announced Wednesday.
The policy change is part of the department’s effort to take “further steps toward ensuring the fair treatment of LGBTQI+ U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender or sex,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Wednesday’s statement.
It is not yet known when the third gender marker, reportedly to be an “X,” will be available. Blinken said the department is currently “evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal” and noted that adding a gender option “is technologically complex and will take time.”
In the more immediate term, U.S. passport applicants will be able to self-select their gender and will no longer be required to provide medical documentation if their gender identity does not match the gender marker on their other identity documents.
The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, applauded the upcoming policy changes, saying they will “decrease the risk of discrimination, harassment, and violence for an already vulnerable group.”
“This is an important step towards achieving meaningful progress for LGBTQ equality in America, and will empower and enable millions of citizens to travel domestically and internationally with greater confidence that the United States recognizes their gender identity,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. He also called for the U.S. to “encourage other nations to adopt inclusive policies that support non-binary and transgender people.”