Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

You Can Now Change Your Gender On Your Passport — And You Will Be Able to Select From a Third Gender

Effective immediately, you may select the gender to which you identify when applying for your passport — and medical certification or a letter from a physician is no longer required to do so — even if the gender you select does not match the gender on your birth certificate, previous passport, official identification which was issued by your state, or other citizenship or identity documents.

You Can Now Change Your Gender On Your Passport — And You Will Be Able to Select From a Third Gender

Public Restroom Symbols
Graphic assembled by Brian Cohen.

In its commitment to human rights and “to promoting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all people” — which includes people who identify as Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex — the Department of State of the United States has updated its procedures to allow applicants of passports to “self-select” their genders of either male or female.

“I am pleased to announce that the Department will be taking further steps toward ensuring the fair treatment of LGBTQI+ U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender or sex, by beginning the process of updating our procedures for the issuance of U.S. Passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad”, according to this official press statement which was released on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 from Antony J. Blinken, who is the secretary of state of the United States. “The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or CRBA. We are evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal. The process of adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons to these documents is technologically complex and will take time for extensive systems updates. The Department will also be working closely with its interagency partners to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for the passport holder.”

To request a new passport with a different gender than the one you have on your current passport — or if you are applying for your first passport — simply submit a new application and select your preferred gender marker. Follow the steps to learn which form to submit. You can select either “M” or “F”, which are the gender markers currently available, as a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons will eventually be added as soon as possible. The exact date as to when that gender marker will be added is unknown at the time this article was written.

Updates on the process and any interim solutions will be provided at the official Internet web site of the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State of the United States.

“In line with the Administration’s commitment to re-engage with allies and partners, the Department is taking these steps after considerable consultation with like-minded governments who have undertaken similar changes”, according to the aforementioned statement. “We also value our continued engagement with the LGBTQI+ community, which will inform our approach and positions moving forward. With this action, I express our enduring commitment to the LGBTQI+ community today and moving forward.”

According to this official press release from the American Civil Liberties Union, “Many transgender and non-binary people are unable to obtain identification that accurately reflects their gender, putting them at risk of harassment, discrimination, and even violence. President Biden must affirm that we have a right to accurate IDs to travel, apply for jobs and enter public places,” said LaLa Zannell who is the trans justice campaign manager of the American Civil Liberties Union. “We are grateful the president ended the transgender service ban and signed an executive order protecting LGBTQ people from workplace and school discrimination. Now, it’s time to go further than undoing the wrongs of the prior administration. Transgender and non-binary people need IDs that reflect who we are without having to access costly and intrusive medical documentation.”

Countries around the world which already have an option to choose a third gender on passports include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, and Pakistan — with M, F, and X as the most common options.


Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

These changes are part of a global effort to include people who do not identify themselves as the gender with which they were born.

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 — even to the point of ensuring that I spell or pronounce the name of the person properly — and not wanting to personally alienate anyone.

Other articles pertaining to striving for greater inclusiveness include:

All photographs ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Pretty easy and sensible decision. Those born in the wrong bodies have a simple option. This is ok. Abandoning pronouns that work for 99% of people is not.

  2. With millions of applicants, there’s probably going to be someone who gets the wrong gender because they made a mistake in the application, not because of gender identity change.

    James Smith, F
    Mary Jones, M

    I think filling out the application and checking the wrong box will be a very rare error, though.

  3. Around 2013, Bangladesh approved a third gender classification for Bangladesh-issued travel documents too.

    The US is sort of late to the game, but better late than never.

    Personally, I would prefer that there be no sex field designator in passports. However, as I am cognizant of the fact that the removal of the sex field designator and its use would also likely lead to harassment from those law enforcement personnel who would then claim they thought a target was ___ sex in order to subject the target to sexual harassment of sort by treating the person as being of a sex other than that which the person identifies as being, the field use is likely to be needed to try to minimize hostile shenanigans from law enforcement personnel.

    1. What utter nonsense. Really? Harassment from law-enforcement? I’m sure you’d like a box to check “guilty of white privilege”. Honestly thoughts like yours are just so backwards and misguided. If you’re going to have an opinion at least be somewhat educated.

      1. Law enforcement personnel around the country and the world aren’t all saints. Some of them are unnecessarily power-tripping and do harass people. And some of them already have a history of harassing by way of approaching people as being of a sexual identity that isn’t in line with that held by the person being harassed by law enforcement personnel.

        By the way, most law enforcement personnel in the world aren’t “white”; but it’s telling about you that you bring in “white privilege” as a whipping boy when responding to comment about how law enforcement can harass people and has ….. including in countries where local law enforcement personnel are generally not “white”.

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