“I’m not a problem. I’m a human being. That’s the point.”
The movement for intersex rights reaches a new milestone.
The United States has officially recognized gender non-binary rights by issuing a passport with an “X” gender marker for the very first time. People who do not identify as male or female have been recognized with the new gender designation and can expect to have the option to change their marker on official documents offered more broadly next year.
While the Department of State did not reveal the identity of the individual who received the historic passport, in a phone interview Dana Zzyym, 63, told The Associated Press that they had received it.
Zzyym is an activist for intersex and non-binary rights, and entered a long legal battle with the Department of State for said document. The activist, who identifies with they/them pronouns, was fighting for the right to be granted a passport that did not require them to lie about their gender identity by choosing a male or female designation.
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When Dana received their passport in the mail, they told AP that while receiving a legal document with their correct marker was thrilling, the next step within their activism was to help the next generation of intersex people to gain recognition and rights as full citizens.
Zzyym stated, “I’m not a problem. I’m a human being. That’s the point.”
Intersex individuals are born with both male and female physical or reproductive characteristics that often don’t fit into the category of “male” or “female”.
The 63-year-old shared with the news publication that they were born with ambiguous physical sexual characteristics and had surgeries that failed to make them appear fully male as they were raised.
After serving in the Navy as a male, Zzyym later came to identify as intersex while studying at Colorado State University.
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Back in June 2021, the US State Department announced that it would be moving forward with adding a third gender designation to recognize nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming people. However, the department stated that adding the third marker would take time because of required updates to its computer system, and needed the approval of the Office of Management and Budget, which confirms all government forms.
Although the actual “X” designation will still take time to appear on document applications, the department now allows applicants to select their gender as male or female without requiring individuals to provide medical certification if their self designation did not line up with other documents of identification.
Jessica Stern, the U.S. special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights, told the Associated Press, “When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect. We see this as a way of affirming and uplifting the human rights of trans and intersex and gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people everywhere.”