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First US non-binary passport to be issued, federal court rules

First US non-binary passport to be issued, federal court rules

Dana Z

A federal judge has ruled that the US Department of State must issue an accurate passport to a nonbinary citizen.

The Colorado court ruled in favor of Dana Zzyym, who is intersex and nonbinary.

Zzyym, a Navy veteran, had been denied a passport by the State Department, on the grounds that there was no suitable gender classification for them.

However, Colorado District Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled that the Department must issue a passport in-line with Zzyym’s gender identity.

If this goes ahead, it will likely be the first nonbinary passport to be issued by the US.

‘Difficult, but not impossible’

In their arguments against issuing Zzyym a passport, the State Department said that issuing a passport without a gender at such short notice would not be feasible.

The State Department said that to fully integrate an ‘X’ listing ‘would take approximately 24 months and cost $11 million’.

The Department added that providing a one-off passport would undermine the consistency and reliability of US passports, and would risk Zzyym encountering problems while traveling.

Judge Jackson, however, dismissed these arguments, stating that not issuing Zzyym a passport would amount to inflicting harm on them.

‘If the Department concludes that issuing a single passport to Dana even with appropriate notice will undermine the system of international travel as we know it, it can comply with the judgment by updating its software systems,’ Jackson wrote in his ruling.

‘While this may be a difficult choice for the Department, it is not an impossible choice. Complying with a judgment necessarily involves some harm to the party against whom a judgment is entered.’

While the State Department is appealing the ruling, Zzyym has been cleared to receive an accurate passport, Think Progress reports.

Far from a world first

Though this would likely be a first for the US, the practice of issuing documents with X as gender has become standard in a number of other countries.

At least 10 other countries allow their citizens to list their gender as X on their passports and birth certificates.

This week also saw a number of major US airlines announce that they would start offering a non-binary option on their tickets.

Colorado allows nonbinary and intersex people to change list their gender as X on driver’s licenses, one of which Zzyym currently possesses.

See also:

As a non-binary person why am I forced to have a passport that lies?

A brief history of identities beyond the binary

Prepare for International Non-binary Day by learning how to be a better ally