I am so very proud to have worked on a bill , introduced yesterday, Tuesday, February 25th, by Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), which instructs the U.S. Department of State to add an additional “(X), Unspecified” sex marker category for U.S. passports, passport cards, or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, allowing applicants whose genders are neither male nor female a third gender marker option. At least 10 countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, India, and New Zealand already issue passports with three gender options. Additionally, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency that establishes international travel document standards, already recognizes “(M) Male”, “(F) Female”, and “(X) Unspecified” as valid and machine-readable identifiers.
Not all intersex people are non-binary in our gender identity, so why is this bill important not only for non-binary people but for the intersex community as well? My quote in the press release about the X bill by Rep. Khanna’s office explores this issue.
“Intersex and non-binary people exist, as numerous cultures have always acknowledged and twenty-three U.S. states do today,” said Hida Viloria, Founding Director, Intersex Campaign for Equality. “Yet we’re targets of discrimination–such as being subjected, as infants, to irreversible, medically unnecessary surgeries that aim to make intersex people male or female–because our society only recognizes male or female citizens. Many intersex and non-binary people want to accurately identify ourselves on federal documents, like the vast majority of people who can easily check male or female do, and allowing us to do so simply upholds our nation’s goal of equality for all citizens.”
Personally, I spent years of my young adulthood thinking I was perhaps crazy because unlike everyone around me–even my gender nonconforming, queer and trans friends in San Francisco–I couldn’t choose between feeling and living as a man or a woman. I felt like neither, or both, but this experience and identity didn’t even have a name, and I was shunned by many, particularly from within my own LGBTQIA community, because my gender presentation and identity shifted from masculine to feminine, “butch to femme,” as they’d say in those days.
I never thought that one day there would not only be a thriving, beautiful, non-binary community, but a bill like this on the books. We are aware that there is little chance it will pass in the current political climate, but knowing that so many of our elected congresspeople support it is fantastic and cannot be undone.
Please read this post about the X passport bill by the non-profit I am founding director of, The Intersex Campaign for Equality, to find out more about the history of non-binary gender recognition in the United States. As many are unaware, intersex people have spearheaded the efforts for legal third gender recognition. <3