The United States has issued its first passport with an "X" gender selection option for those who identify as nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming, according to the Department of State.
On Wednesday, the department announced that one unidentified person was issued the passport with the "X" marker and the option should be widely available in early 2022.
"The Department also continues to work closely with other U.S. government agencies to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity," a department press release states.
Jessica Stern, the U.S. special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights, told the Associated Press and Washington Blade that the new "X" marker will "reflect the true gender of the passport holder and make people safer, hopefully by reducing the likelihood of dehumanizing harassment and mistreatment that so often happens at border crossings when a person's legal documentation does not correspond with their gender expression."
She added, "When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect."
Earlier this year, the Department of State first announced that those who identify as nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming would soon be able to select a third gender option when applying for an American passport.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a news release in June that officials were working on introducing a third gender option on passports in an effort to take "further steps toward ensuring the fair treatment of LGBTQI+ U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender or sex."
"The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or CRBA," he said in a statement. "We are evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal."
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Previously, the only gender options for Americans applying for a passport were "M" and "F," but applicants can now self-select their gender even if it does not match the sex listed on their birth certificate or state ID. Americans will also no longer have to provide medical documentation to make the change to their gender marker.
Passports with a third gender option have already been introduced in countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, and Argentina.
"In line with the Administration's commitment to re-engage with allies and partners, the Department is taking these steps after considerable consultation with like-minded governments who have undertaken similar changes," Blinken said in his statement. "With this action, I express our enduring commitment to the LGBTQI+ community today and moving forward."