(NEXSTAR) – The U.S. State Department has announced that citizens will be able to select a third gender option — “X” — on passports beginning next month.
The initiative, which was first announced in June 2021, is designed to promote inclusivity for transgender, intersex, non-binary and gender non-conforming persons. Beginning on April 11, citizens will be able to self-select the X option, which recognizes the passport holder as “unspecified or another gender identity.”
Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State, said the X option will be extended to other official forms of documentation sometime in 2022.
“As we mark Transgender Day of Visibility, we mark this historic moment at the @StateDept as a meaningful step towards LGBTQI+ inclusivity,” Blinken wrote Thursday on Twitter.
In a news release issued the same day, Blinken said the State Department had been consulting the LGBTQI+ community and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics on the project. Officials also solicited public feedback and consulted with “partner countries” who had implemented similar initiatives.
The Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that both the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are updating their screening procedures to better serve the transgender, non-binary and gender non-confirming public.
The DHS’ initiatives will include less-invasive screening procedures at TSA checkpoints, enhanced screening technology to reduce instances of passengers requiring pat-downs, and updating validation protocols to avoid “unnecessary delays caused by a mismatch in gender information on the boarding pass and identification document,” among other initiatives, the DHS said.
The TSA will also be including an X gender marker on TSA PreCheck forms this year.
“DHS is committed to protecting the traveling public while ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender identity, is treated with respect,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas in Thursday’s news release. “The new measures announced today are part of a whole-of-government effort to promote equity and inclusion in all our programs and processes. We are proud to work with our interagency partners on this effort and look forward to rapidly implementing these changes to better serve the American public.”