The final day of Pride month 2021 brought LGBTQI+ travelers an unexpected cause to celebrate. On June 30, the U.S. State Department announced a planned policy change that will enable Americans to select which gender marker they would like printed on their passport without having to provide medical certification.
That means they’ll be able to self-select the gender that they identify as, even if their current documentation (e.g., birth certificate, previous passport, driver’s license or state ID) doesn’t match the marker they themselves indicate.
Travelers who wish to change the gender marker displayed on their current passport will be able to request a new one that reflects their preference, while those applying for their first passports will simply be able to mark their preferred gender identity on the application form.
Travel + Leisure reported that those who were still undergoing the gender-transitioning process were previously issued limited-validity passports, which it said will also be phased out. They can now self-select the gender they identify as before the process is complete and without medical certification or a physician’s letter.
Right now, only the binary markers “M” and “F” are available on passport application documents, but the State Department wrote that it’s working to, “add a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons as soon as possible.”
The agency said that it couldn’t provide an exact timeline for effecting these changes, as it is trying to update its procedures for the issuance of U.S. passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs), and that the process of adding new gender options to documentation, “is complex and will take time for extensive updates to our information technology (IT) systems.”
The State Department explained its reasons for changing the status quo as: “We are committed to promoting the freedom, dignity and equality of all people – including LGBTQI+ persons. We are taking further steps toward demonstrating this commitment to better serve all U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender or sex.”
It’s worth noting that both new applicants and current passport holders looking to change their existing gender marker will need to =submit applications alongside a new passport photo, which, “must look similar to your current appearance and meet our passport photo requirements.”
For more information, visit travel.state.gov.
Originally Appeared On: https://www.travelpulse.com/news/features/us-passports-soon-to-include-a-third-gender-marker-option.html