The United States will soon make a number of changes to its passport protocols in order to be more inclusive of those in the LGBTQI+ community, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday.
To start, passport applicants will now be able to self-select their gender as either male or female, and will no longer be required to show proof or medical certification if their self-selected gender does not match other forms of identification.
The State Department also plans to add a third self-identification option for those who are non-binary, intersex or gender non-conforming. Officials did not give a timeline for when the gender marker might be made available, saying such changes are “technologically complex and will take time for extensive systems updates.”
“We are committed to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people – including LGBTQI+ persons,” the department wrote in a statement. “We are taking further steps toward demonstrating this commitment to better serve all U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender or sex.”
The U.S. will not be the first country to add gender markers to official documents. At least eight other countries — including Argentina, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — have adopted new gender identifiers on passports in recent years.
Blinken noted the change to U.S. documentation was made with these countries in mind.
“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,” he wrote.
Already, a handful of states and Washington, D.C. offer an “X” gender identifier on drivers licenses and birth certificates.
Once implemented, the change to U.S. passports will make good on a promise made by Joe Biden during his campaign for president, when he pledged to “ensure all transgender individuals have access to identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity.”
This is a developing story. Check back later for further updates.