How US Passports Are Changing

The US passport is getting a small facelift, learn all about the new inclusive change the went into effect.

By Kristi Eckert | Published

US passport

Each and every day the people of the world walk bravely into tomorrows that are defined by emerging technologies and advancing perspectives. This societal evolution, so to speak, is evident in the devices and applications we routinely interact with. In the United States, for instance, our cars are getting smarter, our smartphones are more capable than ever, and even the way present our identification is changing. In Arizona, you can now replace your driver’s license with a digital one that lives on your Apple Wallet. That’s progress. However, driver’s licenses aren’t the only forms of ID being subject to forward change. NPR reported that the US Passport is getting a small facelift, too. 

The State Department announced that all citizens applying for an initial or renewal of a US passport now have the option to select a gender-neutral designation. Instead of having to choose between female or male, individuals can now opt to choose the letter X. After the change was enacted the State Department reminded the public that it was a reaffirmation of their commitment to the American People. “We reaffirm our commitment to promoting and protecting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all persons – including transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming persons around the world, “ read a statement from the State Department. 

The State Department’s decision to implement the change on the US Passport was motivated primarily by a court case that occurred in Colorado. A Colorado resident filed a lawsuit that alleged that they could not properly identify themselves according to how the US Passport application was currently formatted. The individual conveyed in the suit that they identified as non-binary. Taking the Colorado individual’s case into account and conferring with the National Center for Health Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control, and various members of LGBTQI+ community all factored into the agency’s decision to institute the change. 

The letter X option now available to those applying on the US passport is officially denoted as “unspecified or another gender identity.” Those who choose X on any new passport they receive will not be subjected to any further inquiry. In the past, medical documentation was required. Those looking for more information about the change or how to apply for, update, or renew their passport can visit here

This new change to the US Passport has been a long time coming. Activists and those who identify as non-binary have long been petitioning the government for change. Dana Zzyym applauded the revision. “It’s great news for all intersex and nonbinary people, because it basically says that we can get our passports,” said Zzym via NPR. That is certainly a big win, especially because it means that individuals like Zzym can feel as though they are being true to who they are without being impeded by the limitations of the government. “We don’t have to lie to get our passports. We can just be ourselves,” said Zzym. 

The progressive move regarding the US passport serves as an important milestone not only for the members of the LGBTQI+ community but for the United States as a whole. Unity is intrinsically linked to inclusivity. Unity cannot exist without inclusiveness, and the letter X option on US Passports now serves as a small but important symbol of that. The United States now joins a multitude of other countries that have already included the gender-neutral option on their respective passport applications.