The Biden administration will allow any U.S. citizen to add an "X gender marker" to their passport beginning April 11, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Thursday.
The State Department is the first agency in the administration to announce such a change to identification documents. In a press statement, Blinken said the "X" represents "unspecified or another gender identity," adding that the definition "is respectful of individuals' privacy while advancing inclusion." No accompanying medical documentation is required. On a separate webpage, however, the agency warns, "You may face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the X gender marker."
The change is in keeping with President Joe Biden's promise to promote "equity" and "inclusion" during his tenure in the Oval Office. In June 2021, he signed a sweeping executive order for "diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the federal workforce." The order mandated federal agency heads to "update Federal employee identification standards to include non-binary gender markers where gender markers are required in employee systems and profiles." Another provision included "supportive services for transgender and gender non-conforming and non-binary employees who wish to legally, medically, or socially transition."
The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced it will phase out "gender-based" advanced imaging technology used by the Transportation Security Administration and reduce pat downs and "invasive screening procedures" in private areas. The joint effort will push airlines to adopt "X gender markers" as well.
Biden's 2023 fiscal year budget has also apportioned $10 million in "funding for additional critical research on how to best add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey."
Just 15 other countries have approved nonbinary genders on passports, including Germany, Denmark, and Canada.
The White House recognized "Transgender Day of Visibility" on Thursday, declaring that "transgender people are some of the bravest people in our nation" who "have faced significant barriers to traveling safely."