To put it bluntly, the last administration was exceptionally cruel to LGBTQ+ folx. Not only did the conservative regime roll back healthcare protections for queer individuals, but they made it easier for employers to fire people just because of their sexuality or gender identity. Previously, for our trans siblings, being recognized according to your preferred pronoun — even on identifying documents — proved difficult and involved long, often archaic processes. But now, there are a few unprecedented government actions being taken that support and affirm gender identity for trans people.
At the close of Pride Month, the State Department said it would be introducing a new rule enabling Americans to select their gender on their passport without presenting supporting medical documentation, according to the New York Times. In the past, the State Department required documentation of sex reassignment surgery in order to issue a change.
Effective immediately, they’ll now issue passports that reflect a trans person’s current gender with documentation confirming that the person has had appropriate treatment for their gender transition. The State Department will also no longer require medical certification when applying for passports if the applicant's stated gender does not match other identification documents, per the Wall Street Journal. Yes, this process is not perfect but it still means that trans Americans will no longer have to go through the often demoralizing experience of having to clinically associate your private parts with your gender identity. One has nothing to do with the other.
Further, a brand new Biden administration rule will soon create a gender marker on passports and citizenship certificates for people who identify as nonbinary or intersex, or otherwise do not conform to traditional gender roles. That letter will be “X” instead of the binary “M” or “F.” According to a statement by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, 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.” People have adhered to the oppressive gender binary for centuries, so some changes will take a minute. Hopefully, though, by next Pride Month, trans people will be able to travel internationally more safely and confidently.
If you’ve been following the fight for equal rights through administrations, this passport gender news may sound familiar. In 2010, President Obama had enacted parts of these current passport rules. But in 2018, one-term president Donald Trump and his cavalcade of mayonnaise soldiers reversed that policy, requiring specific medical treatment again. If you’re not aware, traveling while trans to countries where the laws and the people might be discriminatory is difficult and often dangerous, and having a passport or identification that doesn’t match your gender identity or presentation can ultimately prove fatal. This is why more expensive laws in this area are so important.
Honestly, in this queer cis male’s opinion, these “revolutionary” policies don’t go far enough. The fact that you need to go to a doctor to confirm what you already know seems a little backward to me. And apparently, the powers that be in Ireland agree, allowing people over 18 to legally self-identify however the hell they want to. That, along with the rights trans peeps in 10 other countries experience, seem to prove that America has a little ways to go in proving that it’s the land of the free.