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Intersex activist denied passport sues US State Department

Intersex activist denied passport sues US State Department

Dana Zzyym identifies as neither male or female.

An intersex activist from Colorado is suing the US State Department after they were denied a passport.

Lambda Legal on Monday (26 October) filed a federal discrimination lawsuit on behalf of Dana Zzyym, who identifies as neither male or female.

‘Dana is intersex, identifies specifically as intersex and rejects categorically any effort by the federal government to compel them to choose one way or the other,’ Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Paul D Castillo said.

‘The State Department in effect is demanding that Dana use incorrect information on the passport application and choose either “male” or “female” when, in fact, Dana is neither. They shouldn’t have to choose.’

Zzyym was born with ambiguous sex characteristics, but was raised as a boy and underwent several ‘irreversible, painful and medically unnecessary’ surgeries that left them traumatized and with severe scarring.

Zzyym, associate director for the US affiliate of the Organization Intersex International, applied for a passport last year after they were invited to an international forum on intersexuality in Mexico City.

However, ‘male’ or ‘female’ were the only gender options on the application form. And as a first-time applicant, Zzyym was also required to submit their birth certificate which lists their sex as ‘unknown.’

‘When I was a child, I had no say in what was done to me in order to make me “I am not male, I am not female, I am intersex, and I shouldn’t have to choose a gender marker for my official US identity document that isn’t me.’fit” in some acceptable category,’ they said.

Lambda Legal has accused the State Department of violating the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Constitution, as well as the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

‘It is against the law to “willfully and knowingly” make a false statement on a passport application, and yet, in a classic Catch-22, the application itself and State Department “policy” make it impossible for a person who is inherently neither male or female to list their gender,’ Castillo said.

‘Dana is being deprived of the right to lawfully exit the United States because of personal characteristics, and that’s discrimination, pure and simple.’

Several countries currently issue ‘gender X’ passports to transgender and intersex nationals, including Australia, India, Malta, Nepal and New Zealand.