Written by CNN Staff
A trove of data from the government’s online passport applications reveals that it will issue the first passports with a gender “X” option.
According to federal data obtained by Global News , passports belonging to 5,986 people were issued with the new “X” gender designation between August and September.
Barring extreme circumstances, citizens must indicate their gender on their passport application if they do not identify as male or female, according to the US State Department.
Laws in most countries, including the United States, prohibit sex reassignment surgery for those who desire it.
Advocates and politicians have been pushing for a separate “X” category on passport applications for several years.
In April, Representative David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, sponsored the “X Act” that would require the State Department to issue passport IDs and Social Security cards that identify individuals with a “non-gender-conforming gender.”
The bill seeks to put pressure on the State Department to make the move, alongside the Defense Department.
A statement from the department to Global News did not explicitly confirm that passports issued after September 1 would have the “X” option. The message pointed out that the new label will take effect in January 2019 and the agency will work with the Defense Department “to optimize how transgender troops are treated when they enter military service.”
“Transgender service members will continue to be evaluated and treated with the same care as every other service member,” the statement said.
The Defense Department told CNN that it “is reviewing the guidance” from the State Department.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, which includes more than 2 million unionized school workers, tweeted her support of the legislation in April.
“Re-assigning sex to the government without affirming a true and authentic gender makes everyone vulnerable to abuse,” she said.
As one student’s father sees it, sex reassignment surgery is “an absolutely different legal condition” than having a “complete hiccup when it comes to your gender,” said Matt Barnes, a Virginia resident who was born and raised in Denver.
His transgender daughter has completed the process, but she also uses the “X” box on applications. Barnes said she believes that other transgender people are fighting for the same recognition.
“Transgender people aren’t demanding anything from anybody, they’re just asking for their fair share of a fair system,” he said.
Barnes said that the labels “X” and “masculine” and “feminine” mean nothing in his daughter’s context.
“I told my daughter at one point that if she didn’t change her passport every two years, she was going to lose her mom’s name and her dad’s,” he said.