Gender-neutral 'X' now an option on US passport applications

For the first time, the U.S. has issued a passport with the gender marker "X," marking a major milestone for intersex and gender-neutral persons.

Colorado resident Dana Zzyym's life story could fill a book, but their latest chapter can be told with just one letter – X.

"It's about not having to lie about who they are. Not having to lie on a government form simply to acquire an identity document," Dana Zzyym's attorney, Paul Castillo said.

It's an identity that can now be represented for the first time on a U.S. passport with the letter X instead of M or F, something Zzyym – a U.S. Navy veteran from Fort Collins, Colorado who is intersex and nonbinary – has spent the last 6 years advocating for.

"They were born with an intersex variation meaning they are neither male nor female and they sought the passport to be able to travel to an intersex conference," Castillo said.

As Castillo explains, when Zzyym's initial passport application was denied in 2014, they sued the State Department requesting an "X" gender marker option be added to the application. After a yearslong legal battle, Wednesday Zyymm's request was granted.

"They are still in a little bit of shock that this has finally come to fruition," Castillo said.

The U.S. joins a growing number of countries, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia, which allow citizens to designate a gender other than male or female on their passports. Within the U.S., at least 20 states allow residents to mark M, F or X on their driver's license. However, in Florida, certain requirements have to be met in order to do so.

Castillo and his team are hopeful this milestone can help people gain more of an understanding of intersex people and why it's important they're accurately represented.

"This is a huge victory for not only Dana, but also other non-binary, intersex and gender non-conforming people across the United States and across the world," Castillo said.

According to the U.S. State Department, the "X" option will be available to all passport applicants sometime in early 2022.