US confirms X gender markers for passports to be rolled out imminently

A hand holds a US passport

On Transgender Day of Visibility, the US has announced that it will be introducing X gender markers on passports in less than two weeks.

In a statement, US secretary of state Antony Blinken said that X gender markers will be available on passport applications from 11 April, 2022.

It comes after the State Department announced X gender markers would be made available in June 2021, and that trans Americans would be able to self-declare their gender.

“The Department of State has reached another milestone in our work to better serve all US citizens, regardless of their gender identity,” Blinken said confirming the roll-out on Thursday (31 March).

In June, I announced that US passport applicants could self-select their gender and were no longer required to submit any medical documentation, even if their selected gender differed from their other citizenship or identity documents.

“Starting on 11 April, US citizens will be able to select an X as their gender marker on their US passport application, and the option will become available for other forms of documentation next year.”

Blinken added that the State Department was “setting a precedent”, in the hopes that other federal agencies would follow suit.

In a statement marking Transgender Day of Visibility, Blinken said: “The United States affirms that transgender rights are human rights. We celebrate the achievements and resilience of transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming persons around the world.

“We recognise their bravery in their hard-fought work for equality, inclusion, and the full recognition of their human rights. We celebrate the diverse expressions of gender and the full diversity of gender identities around the world.

He also underscored “the work that remains to ensure that all transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming persons are able to live authentically, safely, and with dignity”, including in fighting anti-trans violence and intersectional discrimination.

The announcement of X gender markers on passports is one change in a long list of improvements being made by Joe Biden’s administration to mark Transgender Day of Visibility.

The White House announced that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would be improving security checks to tackle the traumatic experiences often faced by trans travellers.

This will include body scanners with new technology, replacing a gender-based system and improving “the customer experience of transgender travellers who have previously been required to undergo additional screening due to alarms in sensitive areas”, and working with airlines and security services to seamlessly introduce the X gender markers on passports.

New resources to support trans kids and their families were also announced by the White House, including training in schools, a new Health and Human Services website, resources on “the evidence behind the positive effects of gender affirming care” for trans youth and new information for providers of gender-affirming care.

The White House also announced moves to improve access to federal services and benefits for trans folk, and to advance inclusion and visibility in federal data.

In its statement to mark Transgender Day of Visibility, the Biden administration once again clarified its opposition to the tsunami of anti-trans bills across the US.

“Today, the administration once again condemns the proliferation of dangerous anti-transgender legislative attacks that have been introduced and passed in state legislatures around the country,” it said.

“The evidence is clear that these types of bills stigmatise and worsen the well-being and mental health of transgender kids, and they put loving and supportive families across the country at risk of discrimination and harassment.

“As the President has said, these bills are government overreach at its worst, they are un-American, and they must stop.”

Responding to the White House announcements, Joni Madison, interim president of Human Rights Campaign, said:  “News of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to policy reforms that will improve the lives of transgender and non-binary people in this country is a wonderful way to kick of this year’s International Transgender Day of Visibility.

“Today’s actions prove that transgender people have an ally in the White House, and come at a much needed time when transgender people – particularly young people – are under attack in statehouses across the country.

“As lawmakers across the country are trying to ban transgender youth from participating in sports, criminalising medically necessary age appropriate care, and banning discussions of LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom, today the White House is proving that they do have the transgender community’s back.”