US issues first gender-neutral 'X' passport

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Dana Zzyym's passport close-upImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Dana Zzyym's passport has an "X" in the gender box

The United States has issued its first gender-neutral passport.

The document has an "X" in the gender box, signalling that the holder does not identify as either male or female.

It was issued to Dana Zzyym, a 66-year-old intersex activist, who sued the State Department over the issue in 2015.

The US Navy veteran said it was "an exciting moment for me" after getting the new passport. "I get to go places and say 'yes, this is who I am'."

Zzyym, who identifies as non-binary, was previously denied a passport after failing to mark male or female in an application.

Before getting the new passport, Zzyym said "it felt like I was in prison".

"You're denied a status of being human and it's like I was not a citizen of this country because I was denied access to leave and only felons and prisoners are not allowed to travel."

Before, people needed medical certification to mark their gender as different from the one on their birth certificate.

More than 10 countries, including Canada, Germany, Australia and India, already offer a third gender on documents.

The State Department already allows people to self-select male or female on their passport, and says it plans to make the option of a third gender widely available.

"I want to reiterate, on the occasion of this passport issuance, the Department of State's commitment to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people - including LGBTQI+ persons," said spokesman Ned Price.

The move, which gives choice to nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming US citizens, is the latest move in President Joe Biden's LGBT agenda.

The president appointed a special envoy, Jessica Stern, to advance LGBT human rights around the world.

Ms Stern said the new gender designation should reduce the "dehumanising harassment and mistreatment that so often happens at border crossings when a person's legal documentation does not correspond with their gender expression".

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