Starting April 11, the Biden administration’s long-promised policy change will kick in.
Government IDs are weirdly intrusive. This is a hill that I’m willing to die on. The government’s insistence on continuing to use genital — sorry, I mean gender — markers on IDs is especially frustrating. But things are slowly improving. Starting next month, you’ll be able to choose an X gender marker on your passport, in a move that will hopefully make travel a little less stressful for trans and gender non-conforming people.
In July, the Biden administration announced its plans to add an X gender marker to passports. At the time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that 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.”
Now, nearly a year later, the new gender markers are being rolled out. Per CNN, they’ll be available beginning April 11 for passports, and other documentation next year. On public forms for the State Department, Blinken said, the definition of the X gender marker will be “‘unspecified or another gender identity.’ This definition is respectful of individuals’ privacy while advancing inclusion.”
Adding new gender markers isn’t the only way that the Biden administration is changing travel. Everyone knows that the Transportation Security Administration sucks — as a Black Muslim woman, I’m tired of having my hijab and braids underneath patted down. But its use of full-body scanners at the airport is especially terrible because the scanners open up trans and gender non-conforming people especially to incredible amounts of harm.
In 2019, ProPublica reported that full body scanners often flagged trans people as needing additional scrutiny. Sometimes, people were pressured to expose their genitals during searchers. On Thursday, the Biden administration announced that the Transportation Security Administration will switch out its gender-based scanners to “advance civil rights and improve the customer experience.”
These announcements from the Biden administration come on the International Transgender Day of Visibility. And while the X marker rollout for passports is welcome news, there may be some kinks in the system to work through. CNN reported that Homeland Security and TSA still need to update their own systems to include an X gender marker, too.