A federal court ruled the US State Department cannot deny a passport application just because an intersex citizen did not select male or female as a gender.
Colorado resident Dana Zzyym, who is intersex and non-binary, sued the State Department in 2015. Because they requested the gender marker ‘X’ on a passport, it was denied.
US District Judge R. Brooke Jackson said the State Department’s decision was ‘arbitrary and capricious’ in Wednesday (19 September)’s ruling.
‘Adherence to a series of internal policies that do not contemplate the existence of intersex people is not good reason’, the judge therefore wrote.
Senior Attorney at Lambda Legal, who represented Zzyym, Paul D. Castillo said: ‘It is well past time for Dana Zzyym and other non-binary citizens of this country to be recognized and respected for who they are’.
He also said intersex and non-binary citizens should be able to live ‘openly and authentically, and to be able simply to travel freely about the world’.
‘I’m not going to lie on my passport application’ said Zzyym, according to a post on Lambda Legal’s website. ‘I shouldn’t have to, and the judge here, twice, has agreed with me’.
Reportedly, the State Department said it was reviewing the decision and coordinating with the Department of Justice on next steps.
Importantly, a number of US States allow state residents to select ‘X’ as a gender for driving licenses and State IDs. These include California, Washington and Maine.
Besides that, a number of countries issue passports with gender markers other than male and female. These include Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan.
Zzyym was born with ambiguous sex characteristics. But their parents and doctor decided to raise them as a boy. For that reason, they underwent several irreversible and unnecessary surgeries.
After several years, they came to understand they were born intersex. For that reason, they now use gender-neutral pronouns.
Zyym currently serves as associate director for Intersex Campaign for Equality.