The U.S. State Department has issued the first U.S. passport with the gender designated as "X," a step toward making a third gender option widely available for nonbinary, intersex and non-gender-conforming applicants, the department announced on Wednesday.
The "X" gender marker will be open "to all routine passport applicants once we complete the required system and form updates in early 2022," according to a statement by State Department spokesman Ned Price.
The department last summer announced it would add the option and already allows applicants to select which gender they would like to have on their passport even if it does not match the identification they are using as their supporting department. No medical certification is required for a change in passport gender designation.
The U.S. is joining about a dozen countries that offer a nonbinary or third gender option for passports, including Canada, Argentina, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Iceland, Pakistan and Nepal.
The Human Rights Campaign estimates the State Department policy will benefit about 1.2 million nonbinary adults, 2 million transgender people and about 5.5 million people born intersex in the United States.
Price said the department is working "closely with other U.S. government agencies to ensure as smooth a travel experience as possible for all passport holders, regardless of their gender identity."