Social security cards, passports, resident permits, and other federal identification documents may soon offer a third gender option: X. Already, a dozen states including Washington D.C., have modified their laws to offer an X gender designation on some identifying documents such as birth certificates and driver’s license. However, since 2010, when Americans were first able to apply to change the sex marker on their passports, federal laws have not changed much. That application has always required medical certification and is only available for those who have transitioned from one gender to another the State Department, which issues passports, asks applicants to select either male or female. However, President Biden has promised to change that, and the American Civil Liberties Union is pushing him to take action soon.
The Civil Liberties organization had been talking with the White House officials about adding a gender-neutral option to all federal identification documents and records and allowing people to affirm their own gender without a court or medical certificate. Eli Miller, who is for the push, said, “We want to make sure that there’s consistent, streamlines and practical modernization in gender markers.”
Although many want this change for the world, the White House has not announced any actions yet. A petition that the A.C.L.U. started last month, which calls for executive action, has more than 34,000 signatures. The organization plans to share the petition with the White House on March, 31, the International Transgender Day of Visibility. It can be very difficult to measure exactly how many people would choose a third gender designation on official documents. The category would provide an option for individuals who have transitioned but do not identify with either “male” or “female,” individuals who are nonbinary, and those who are intersex, as well as others. Some people, countries, and international agencies argue that there is no need for a gender designation on documents at all.
While all of this may sound easy, it is a huge challenge for medical authorization, especially in the case of passports. “You have to go to a physician and get a formal letter on the letterhead,” said Eli Miller. This then poses a problem for people who don’t have insurance, live in rural areas and aren’t out yet to their providers, or haven’t had certain kinds of medical treatment for various reasons. All of these reasons are “a big barrier to getting an updated ID” said Bri.