United States: the inscription “X” of unspecified gender appears on passports



It’s a small revolution. Since April 11, American citizens who do not want to specify their sex on their passport can opt for the inscription “X” instead of the traditional “M” and “F” (for male and female). This measure is intended in particular for people who do not identify with a particular gender (known as “non-binary”).

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“IDs with incorrect information set the stage for discrimination and harassment against transgender peopleunderlines Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), an association which campaigns for the recognition of the rights of people who identify with a gender different from that of their birth. This reform will improve the lives of transgender people and ensure that all travellers, regardless of their gender identity, benefit from better travel conditions. »

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Announced last year by the Biden administration, the provision reflects a move to address the challenges Americans face with “gender fluid identity,” including transgender people. Since taking office, the Democratic President has multiplied the gestures intended to promote this population, which has gained visibility in recent years through very popular films and series such as Orange Is the New Black (2013), in which one of the main characters is a black transgender.

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In January 2021, the president appointed Rachel Levine, a transgender pediatrician, as secretary (equivalent to a cabinet minister in the United States) deputy health officer. This is the first time an openly “trans” person has held this level of responsibility in a US government. The White House has also taken measures to increase access for “trans” young people to psychological assistance programs and to fight against the discrimination suffered, particularly within the army. In 2021, fifty transgender and “non-binary”, a record, were killed in the United States, according to Human Rights Campaign, an association for the defense of LGBT.

Republican states hostile to transgender athletes

This increased recognition is coming up against opposition from the conservative right, which is trying to scarecrow this emerging community. Fourteen Republican states have passed laws prohibiting transgender school-age athletes from competing in the category that does not correspond to their biological sex.

The gender-unspecified “X” inscription is not the only measure aimed at facilitating the movement of “non-binary” individuals. The Biden government has announced the deployment in airports of new scanner technology intended to avoid body searches deemed invasive. Designed on the basis of the typical morphology of men and women, current devices are unsuitable for the bodies of transgender people, who are often forced to undergo secondary checks, pat-downs, or even undress.

A measure that is not unanimous

Travelers faced with these experiences have taken to sharing their traumas under the hashtag Traveling as trans» (#TravelingWhileTrans) on Twitter. “For too long, transgender, non-binary, or gender-nonconforming Americans have faced significant barriers to safe travel. The gender identity of many of them has not been respected in the United States and the rest of the world”explained the White House.

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But even among the “non-binary” population, the inscription “X” is not unanimous. The artist Abeni Jones indicated on April 10 in the washington postthat she will not use this option for fear of getting in further trouble, especially in a climate where laws hostile to transgender people like her are flourishing. “I asked a few non-binary friends what they would do, and they all said that showing up as such in their passports (through the X, editor’s note) would make their travels less safe. » His solution: Remove any mention of gender in passports.»

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Similar approaches elsewhere in the world

2009. Pakistan recognizes a third gender and allows the choice of a neutral identity card.

2011. During the census, Nepal allows its inhabitants to self-identify as male, female or otherwise.

2014. Australia’s highest court decides that a person can be recognized by civil registration as gender neutral.

2014. India’s Supreme Court orders the country’s government and states to identify transgender people as a neutral third gender.

2018. Germany becomes the first European country to recognize the “third gender” in civil status.

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