US to issue ‘X’ gender passports, combat anti-transgender laws

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the "Say Gay Anyway" rally in Miami Beach, Florida on March 13, 2022. Florida's state senate on March 8 passed a controversial bill banning lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools, a step that critics complain will hurt the LGBTQ community. Opposition Democrats and LGBTQ rights activists have lobbied against what they call the "Don't Say Gay" law, which will affect kids in kindergarten through third grade, when they are eight or nine years old. (CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP)

WASHINGTON – Americans will be allowed to choose an X for gender on their passport applications and select their sex on Social Security cards, the Biden administration said on Thursday in announcing measures to support transgender Americans against wave of state laws targeting them.

The State Department in June said US citizens could select their gender on applications without having to submit medical documentation. In October, it issued the first American passport with an "X" gender marker, designed to give nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming people an option other than male or female on their travel document.

The changes were among several measures announced by the Biden administration to mark a "Transgender Day of Visibility," a day after the Republican governors of Oklahoma and Arizona signed bills banning transgender athletes from girls' sports in schools

"Starting on April 11, US citizens will be able to select an X as their gender marker on their US passport application, and the option will become available for other forms of documentation next year," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Americans will also be able to select and add their gender to US Social Security cards without medical documentation, beginning in the fall, the Social Security Administration said. The cards currently do not include gender indicators.

The changes were among several measures announced by the Biden administration to mark a "Transgender Day of Visibility," a day after the Republican governors of Oklahoma and Arizona signed bills banning transgender athletes from girls' sports in schools.

They joined a growing list of states that have passed or enacted similar laws on a contentious election-year issue. Transgender rights have been pushed to the forefront of the culture wars playing out in parts of the United States in recent years, together with issues such as reproductive rights.

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"The administration once again condemns the proliferation of dangerous anti-transgender legislative attacks that have been introduced and passed in state legislatures around the country," the White House said in a statement on initiatives it would take aimed at taking down barriers for transgender people.

They include easing travel, providing resources for transgender children and their families, improving access to federal services and benefits and advancing inclusion and visibility in federal data.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signs a bill in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, that prevents transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams. (SEAN MURPHY / AP)

The administration once again condemns the proliferation of dangerous anti-transgender legislative attacks that have been introduced and passed in state legislatures around the country.

The White House

The Transportation Security Administration will implement gender-neutral screening at its checkpoints with changes in imaging technology, reducing the number of pat-down screenings, removing gender identification from checkpoint screenings and updating TSA PreCheck to include an "X" gender marker on its application.

The Department of Health and Human Services released a new website that offers resources for transgender and LGBTQI+ youth, their parents, and providers.

Other agencies will announce new actions to expand the collection and use of sexual orientation and gender identity data, the White House said.

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"Every American deserves the freedom to be themselves. But far too many transgender Americans still face systemic barriers, discrimination, and acts of violence," the White House said.