Public Restroom Symbols
Graphic assembled by Brian Cohen.

Commitment to Gender Neutrality By Domestic Airlines in the United States

In this next episode of sex and the airlines...

Ron Wyden — who is one of two senators of the United States who represents the state of Oregon — commended domestic airlines for committing to offer a ticket option for nonbinary customers by 2024; and he thanked the airlines for that commitment in a letter to Airlines for America, which is a trade group which represents the commercial aviation industry in the United States.

Commitment to Gender Neutrality By Domestic Airlines in the United States

Both American Airlines and United Airlines offer X gender markers in addition to male and female; but several airlines had either not previously committed to updating their reservation booking systems — or have previously committed to them but have not updated them as of yet.

The letter was written in response to inquiries by Wyden and advocates of the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex — or LGBTQ+ — community.

“X gender markers allow individuals who do not identify as male or female to avoid having to choose an inaccurate gender category when obtaining identification or documents that sort people by gender. Oregon was the first state to allow X gender markers on driver’s licenses, in 2017. Currently 21 states and the District of Columbia allow residents to obtain birth certificates or identity cards with an X gender marker, and the State Department now offers an X gender option for passports”, according to this official press release from Wyden. “The airlines also committed to publish a page on their websites detailing the specific steps that nonbinary individuals can take to obtain tickets that reflect their gender, such as working with a customer service representative who can manually update the gender marker on their ticket.”

The following text is the aforementioned letter in its entirety:

July 1, 2022

Mr. Nicholas E. Calio
President and CEO
Airlines for America
1275 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Ste 1300
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Mr. Calio:

I write to commend Airlines for America for committing to adopt meaningful reforms to ensure that nonbinary travelers are able to purchase airplane tickets that match their gender identity.

The United States government has increasingly realized that the “M” and “F” gender options traditionally offered for identification documents preclude many people from obtaining documents that reflect their gender identity. I’m very proud that my home state of Oregon led the way as the first to allow X gender markers on driver’s licenses back in 2017. Since then, 20 more states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing residents to obtain birth certificates or identity cards with an X gender marker. And, as of April of this year, the U.S. State Department followed suit, allowing citizens to request passports with an X gender marker. Because identity documents are so widely used in daily interactions, from purchasing alcohol to checking in at the doctor’s office, documents with X gender markers help protect nonbinary Americans from being misgendered in their daily lives.

But, even nonbinary individuals who are able to obtain a government-issued ID with an X gender marker are often forced, by out-of-date airline computer systems, to pick between “M” and “F” gender options when purchasing a plane ticket. Nobody should have to misgender themselves in order to book a flight. And, by forcing travelers to book their ticket with inaccurate gender information, airlines also end up providing inaccurate information to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), even as the TSA is updating programs like PreCheck to offer the X gender option so its systems accurately reflect travelers’ gender and keep pace with gender markers offered on IDs. United and American Airlines have already changed their booking process to allow travelers to book tickets with an X gender marker, but not all U.S. airlines have followed their example.

After I recently engaged with Airlines for America, you agreed to take several steps to improve the ticket-booking process for nonbinary individuals. You committed to, by the end of 2024, ensure all member airlines update their computer systems so that travelers can purchase a ticket with an X gender marker. In the meantime, you also agreed that member airlines will publish a page on their websites detailing the specific steps that nonbinary individuals can take to obtain tickets that reflect their gender, such as working with a customer service representative who can manually update the gender marker on their ticket.

The right to have documents and paperwork that reflect their identity is an essential protection for trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming Americans-whether issued by the Federal government or at the check-in counter. I appreciate Airlines for America’s willingness to work with me to ensure that Americans can fly free from gender-based discrimination.

Ron Wyden
United States Senator

Final Boarding Call

Commercial airlines have been striving to ensuring greater inclusiveness to their customers and employees in recent years; and adding gender choices is not the only action on which they have embarked. For example, an announcement from Alaska Airlines pledged that the airline will hire more black female pilots by the year 2025.

Whenever I write an article here at The Gate and I do not definitively know the gender of the person about whom I am writing or to whom I am referring, I keep the article as gender-neutral as possible to respect the identity of the person.

I also believe in respecting the identity of any person regardless of gender, race, religion, age, size, nationality, or political persuasion — even to the point of ensuring that I spell or pronounce the name of the person properly — and not wanting to personally alienate anyone…

…but I have to ask: is this issue really so important that it must be addressed now rather than ensuring that the operations of the airlines themselves return to reliability instead of delaying or stranding passengers, as has been occurring in recent months? Are there not other more pressing issues which the airlines should give priority in addressing first?

Other articles at The Gate which deal with the topic of gender neutrality include:

Graphic assembled by Brian Cohen.

  1. If birth gender does not matter in ticketing or other airline activities – then just do away with the question altogether.

    This “Commitment to Gender Neutrality” reeks of virtue signaling. Why not just eliminate gender announcements as unnecessary in this arena, and thus protect everyone… without all this hoopla? Of course, then the corporations couldn’t waste time and money on advertising how they are oh so very caring and concerned.

  2. For diversity, people should be allowed to carry guns on planes. I mean, if someone identifies as a TransCowboy, why not.

    How about swords and ninja stars? What if somebody wants to be a SheNinja?

    That’s right, never seen a female ninja in the movies, that’s racist and pig headed. We need to correct that stereotype. Ever seen a SheSamurai?

    That’s what I thought. Tom Cruise’s Last Samurai needs to be canceled and pulled from all streaming platforms and online stores.

    Life would be easier without the security check. it’s racist, pig headed, and old conservative thinking.

  3. OF the millions of passengers that fly every year, how many does this REALLY affect?
    and on a related note, as alluded to above, if we can put down something other than male or female, what is the point of having a designation in the first place?

    1. This is incorrect. Gender is an identity and something society has created. Sex is your physical characteristics, but even those can be on a spectrum, medically speaking.

      It’s true gender conforms to sex in the vast majority of cases, and is not without some kind of historical and biological background. But there are outlier cases, and those individuals should be respected.

      Agree with others, it should be removed, as it has become a meaningless question.

      1. Gender is not an identity – you are the gender that you are born, and there are two genders – male and female. It is not possible to switch from one gender to another, or to choose your gender, just like it’s not possible for two males or two females to marry each other. Like you I say “they” when I don’t know the gender for various reasons. There is a Biblical concept of having signs of both genders or not being able to tell which gender a person is, but a person cannot choose their gender. You are right, these measures are a waste of time and absolutely ridiculous.

  4. Rhb, I’m no biologists, but I recall learning this from biologist that there are but two genders. What was the name of the person that won the Nobel prize for discovering the third human gender? Oh, wait… there’s only two.

    1. You had me at “I’m no biologists,” though honestly the rest of your post made that quite clear.

  5. I think you nailed it with “is this issue really so important…”, it’s not. It’s foolishness.

    What’s next? Airlines claiming they “care” because they have gender-neutral lavatories on their airplanes? Or how about airlines that tell us how supportive they are of “women’s healthcare “rights”” because they transport people to states where abortion is still allowed?

    It’s all either just virtue signaling to placate fools or taking a position to placate union/organized labor or trade association fools. Even if a person that has decided they are now gender-neutral supports such garbage they shouldn’t believe corporations really buy into such things. Of course, mental health issues can trick people into believing all sorts of things.

  6. What about the other 68 genders? Are they chopped liver?
    Gas is 5 bucks a gallon but were worrying about this.

    1. actually one should worry about the rise of LGBT / sexual confusion…as in WHY.

      pesticides – atrazine, microplastics (Plastic tea bags, many other things), EMF, soybeans – estrogen modifier…but relative few want to see the real issues.
      these are all downstream issues…get to the SOURCE.

      we’re learning — the very hard way.

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!