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Department of State Adds Gender Options on Passport, Medical Certification No Longer Required

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On the final day of Pride Month – an annual celebration for the LGBTQ community – the Department of State (“the Department”) announced that transgender Americans will be able to change the sex marker more easily on their United States passports. The Department has promised to unveil more gender-inclusive changes to passport applications in the future. The United States will be joining a host of other countries like Canada, Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Iceland, and New Zealand, with their gender-inclusive policies.

Transgender Individuals Prone to Harassment Due to Incorrect Gender Identification on Passport

Initially, passports did not identify the correct sex of transgender individuals, creating a mismatch between an individual’s passport and any other official ID. The Department will no longer require medical certificates if the applicant’s self-selected marker does not match the sex listed on other government identity documents.

GLAAD Response Manager Mary Emily O’Hara told USA Today that the requirement for transgender people to provide medical documentation to receive a passport that matches their gender is “arduous.”

Further, the Department announced that they are working “towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or (a consular report of birth abroad).” This means that applicants will, in the future, be able to mark something other than “M” or “F.” Adding the new marker will take some time, as it “is technologically complex and will take time for extensive system updates.”

The Department of State Commits to Fair Treatment of LGBTQ Community

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the announcements are a step “toward ensuring the fair treatment of LGBTQI+ U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender or sex.” Blinken added, “the department of State is committed to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people – including LGBTQI+ persons.”

President Joe Biden expressed his support of such pro-LGBTQ policies in his presidential campaign. And true to his word, he has announced in recent months several policy changes aimed at protecting members of the transgender community from discrimination.

LGBTQ Communities and Social Groups Applaud the Move

The Department’s announcement was immediately celebrated by LGBTQ groups and other organizations across the country. Supporters and advocates for the LGBTQ community applauded the Department’s move on June 30. The leader at the National Center for Transgender Equality said that “having accurate passports and consistent ID is critical to daily life.” The group’s deputy executive director stated, “It’s necessary for travel, banking, starting a new job and school. Inaccurate IDs open transgender people up to harassment and discrimination. Reforming U.S. passports is a common-sense way to improve the lives of transgender people.”

Some 20 states and Washington, D.C., have adopted such changes to documentation. New Jersey enacted the change in April of this year.

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