The Arrival Status for Gender Neutral Passports in the US

by Caitlin Ultimo

Earlier this summer, the US Department of State announced that citizens can appoint either male or female genders to their passports without having to match previous government forms of identification. These forms of ID include birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and state IDs, as well as previous passports. This is a big deal and marks real progress for the US, but it’s not quite enough, is it? This change doesn’t fully address the need for gender-neutral passports. It still misses out on solving a real problem for so many non-binary individuals in our country.

Well, the good-ish news is, the US government recognizes this too. There is at least an openness around the call for adding a third gender option to passports.

As of March 2021, over 40,000 signatures were collected by the ACLU on a petition that asked the Biden administration to issue an executive order that would hold the President to his campaign promise of affirming gender markers and expanding access to accurate identification documents.

“As President, Biden will ensure all transgender individuals have access to identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity. Biden believes every transgender or non-binary person should have the option of changing their gender marker to ‘M,’ ‘F,’ or ‘X’ on government identifications, passports, and other documentation. He will support state and federal efforts to allow for this accurate representation.”

The Timeline for a Third Gender Neutral Option

So what’s the holdup? According to the State Department, the delay of adding a gender-neutral or X option comes down to the age-old problem of technical difficulties: “The process of adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents is complex and will take time for extensive updates to our information technology (IT) systems.”

While the State Department notes that they want to make this change ASAP, there seems to be a careful avoidance of a declared targeted completion date. The government does share that they will add any updates to this page as they become available. Still, we’re hoping that this is an “under promise, over deliver” situation.

Gender Neutral Options for US Passports Today

As of this writing, you can only choose either M or F on your passport. You no longer have to provide medical certification to change the gender marker on your passport. You also do not have to match the gender marker on your passport to previous forms of ID.

If you want to update your current passport or are looking to get one for the first time, simply follow the steps to submit a new application and select your preferred gender marker.

Which Countries Already Offer Gender Neutral Passports

The United States is not the first to look into making this change to formal IDs. Canada, Australia, India, Malta, Nepal, and New Zealand offer third gender options, with X as the most common third option.

While our country may not be the first to take a seat at this more inclusive table, we sure hope we’ll be able to say we joined it.

If you’re transitioning (or wondering if you want to), we’re here to support you.