Back in December, we discussed the U.S. State Department’s plans to start issuing gender-neutral passports. On April 11, 2022, the new policy took effect, with passport application forms (DS-11) now offering an X gender marker. The DS-11 describes the X as standing for “unspecified or another gender identity.”
Passport applicants can select the X gender marker even if their supporting documentation identifies them as male or female. In other words, if a passport applicant presents a Florida birth certificate as proof of U.S. citizenship, the fact that their birth certificate identifies them as male or female does not prevent them from selecting the X gender marker. Moreover, an applicant identified as female on their birth certificate can select the male gender marker on their passport, and vice versa.
For now, the X gender marker is only available on regular passport books. It will take the State Department some additional time to update their systems to provide X gender markers on passport cards, emergency passports, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs).
The United States is not the only country that now offers gender-neutral passports. According to The Economist, there are a total of 16 countries that do, scattered around all continents except Africa. Contrary to the United States, however, some of these countries require a medical assessment endorsing the gender selection.
As we did when we first wrote about this development, we must warn travelers who plan to use gender-neutral passports with an X gender marker about potential risks. In countries where hostility toward nonbinary persons is prevalent, having a gender-neutral passport could exacerbate mistreatment by officials. Yet even where animus is absent, inconsistencies between documents and/or records could complicate travel.