The State Department announced on Wednesday said that it had issued the first U.S. passport with an “X” genderdesignation, which offers a third option for passport holders who don’t identify as male or female, and expects to offer the new option more broadly, beginning in early 2022.

In a statement from State Department spokesperson Ned Price, “The Department of State continues the process of updating its policies regarding gender markers on U.S passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs) to better serve all U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender identity.

“I want to reiterate, on the occasion of this passport issuance, the Department of State’s commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people, including LGBTQI+ persons,” Price added.

Jessica Stern, the U.S. special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights said, “The moves are historic and celebratory, saying they bring the government documents in line with the ‘lived reality’ that there is a wider spectrum of human sex characteristics than is reflected in the previous two designations.” Stern then added, “When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect.”

The State Department announced in June that it was moving toward adding a third gender marker for nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming people but said it would take time because it required extensive updates to its computer systems. They did not say when it would be available, at that time.

Also in June, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Americans could choose which gender is displayed on their passports, no longer needing medical certification if their preference contradicts supporting documents such as birth certificates.

The recipient is Colorado resident Dana Zzyym (pronounced Zimm), associate director of the intersex Campaign for Equality and a client of Lambda Legal. He has been in a legal battle with the department since 2015 when he was denied a passport for failing to check male or female on an application. According to court documents, Zzyym wrote “intersex” above the boxes marked “M” and “F” and requested an “X” gender marker instead, in a separate letter.

“I almost burst into tears when I opened the envelope, pulled out my new passport, and saw the “X” stamped boldly under ‘sex.’ I’m also ecstatic that other intersex and nonbinary U.S. citizens will soon be able to apply for passports with the correct gender marker. It took six years, but to have an accurate passport, one that doesn’t force me to identify as male or female but recognizes I am neither, is liberating,” Zzyym said in a statement.

The United States joins a handful of countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Nepal and Canada, in allowing its citizens to designate a gender other than male or female on their passports.

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