US passports to start including 'X' as gender option

The announcement comes as the Biden administration continues to push for gender inclusivity

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The State Department announced Americans applying for a passport will be allowed to choose "X" as a gender option starting April 11. 

"We're setting a precedent as the first US federal government agency to offer the 'X' gender marker on an identity document," said Douglass Benning, principal deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, according to CBS News. The announcement comes on International Transgender Day of Visibility.

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The "X" gender option will be open to all applicants, despite the gender specified on their birth certificate or on other legal documents. 

The State Department consulted with other countries, including Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, who have also added the "X" gender option, CBS News reported. 

FILE - This May 25, 2021 file photo shows a U.S. Passport cover in Washington. The United States has issued its first passport with an "X" gender designation, a milestone in the recognition of the rights of people who don't identify as male or female.  (AP Photo/Eileen Putman)

FILE - This May 25, 2021 file photo shows a U.S. Passport cover in Washington. The United States has issued its first passport with an "X" gender designation, a milestone in the recognition of the rights of people who don't identify as male or female.  (AP Photo/Eileen Putman) (AP Photo/Eileen Putman)

"The provision of an 'X' gender marker option is important because human beings do not always fit within a male or female category around the world, the lived realities of transgender intersex, non-binary and gender-nonconforming persons reflects that there is a wider spectrum of humanity than is represented by a binary sex designation on passports," said Jessica Stern, U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Persons, to CBS.  

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The State Department also announced it will begin to incorporate the "X" gender option in other legal documentation, including passport cards and expedited and consular reports of birth abroad, beginning in 2023. 

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The Transportation Security Authority (TSA) also stated it will incorporate more gender-neutral procedures, with the lessening of false alarms and pat-downs at checkpoints, and an "X" gender option for TSA pre-check. 

Passengers queue up to pass through the north security checkpoint Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in the main terminal of Denver International Airport in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Passengers queue up to pass through the north security checkpoint Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in the main terminal of Denver International Airport in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Jose Bonilla, executive director of traveler engagement at the TSA's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, said to CBS the TSA's mission is to rely more on technology. The TSA received $18.6 million in added appropriations to test the new technology.  

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The State Department and TSA announcements come as the Biden administration continues to emphasize gender inclusivity, following the establishment of Trans Visibility Day.