This is big news for a slice of Americans struggling to navigate the myriad of legal hurdles that prevent us from updating our legal documents.
The State Department has announced that American will be able to self-identify when applying for a passport even if their other legal documents haven't been updated.
The U.S. will no longer require Americans applying for passports or consular reports of birth abroad to undergo a medical certification if their self-selected gender doesn’t match the gender listed on other citizenship or identity documents, the State Department announced.
“The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport” or consular report of birth abroad, Blinken said. “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.”
This may not feel like earth-shattering news, but I want to convey why it's such a significant and important change for people like me.
Obtaining a passport is necessary for traveling outside of the country and even for updating other documents in some states. But you cannot obtain a passport if the person you are and the person your outdated documents say you are do not match.
Each state has their own laws governing such things, but updating my own birth certificate to obtain a passport in the first place may be beyond my reach. I was born in Kentucky and to update the gender marker on a Kentucky birth certificate, you have to obtain a passport and undergo reassignment surgery.
Under the Biden administration's new policy, none of that will be truly necessary. Allowing people to self-identify on a passport means I could obtain one as soon as the new policy is in place. And I will.
It will literally be easier for me to obtain a passport than to update my Ohio driver's license under this new policy. That's a damn shame especially for people like me for whom this holds more emotional weight than it does for me.