I've renewed my passport during a government strike before. Thinking that I would not get it in time because of what was going on, I could only hope for the best. Amazingly, I received my renewed passport faster what seemed to my friends faster than when the government was "functioning properly."
My renewal was quite easy. I had to get a new pic and fill out some paperwork and then just wait. It wasn't as easy for Dana Zzyym.
A federal judge ruled Tuesday in favor of Dana Zzyym, an intersex Navy veteran who sued the State Department for a passport that would reflect a gender other than “male” or “female.”
“I find that the administrative record contains no evidence that the Department followed a rational decision-making process in deciding to implement its binary-only gender passport policy,” U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson wrote. “Therefore, the proper next step is to remand the case to the Department to give it an opportunity either to shore up the record, if it can, or reconsider its policy.”
Zzyym was born intersex, uses the pronoun “they” and does not identify as male or female. As a child, Zzyym was raised as a boy after receiving surgeries that “traumatized [them] and left them with severe scarring,” according to Lambda Legal, who represents them.
In 2014, they applied for a U.S. passport to attend the International Intersex Forum in Mexico City but were denied because they did not select “male” or “female” on their application. The suit, filed by Lambda Legal, claimed that the denial violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses in the U.S. Constitution.
“Dana was denied a passport because of personal characteristics, and that’s discrimination pure and simple,” Paul Castillo, Zzyym’s lawyer, told the NewsHour on Wednesday. “We call on the State Department to do the right thing and provide the equal opportunity for Dana, and others who are neither male nor female, to obtain an accurate passport that reflect who they truly are.”
The State Department can now appeal the decision to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. If the department does not choose to appeal, it must reconsider its current passport policy with the possibility of adding a third gender marker, Castillo said. Several other countries allow a third gender option on passports, typically marked by an “X,” which is permitted by the International Civil Aviation Organization, an arm of the United Nations that helps ensure safe aviation.
“Today’s decision is great news, but I realize it is the first step in a long battle,” Zzyym, who is based in Fort Collins, Colorado, said in a statement. “Every day, I am forced to suffer the consequences of decisions made for me as a child. I shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of my government – a government I proudly and willingly served – as well. It’s a painful hypocrisy that, simply because I refused to lie about my gender on a government document, the government would ignore who I am. I hope the State Department will do the right thing now.” – pbs.org
For more on what states like California and Oregon are doing and have done in regard to individuals that do not identify as non-binary individuals, head over to pbs.org.
Should there be a third category? If you are asking people how they identify, but limit them to two options … well, we as LGBTers know what that is like, trying to fit into "normal" parameters. Do you identify a third category by name? What about adding a 4th or 5th category? Or do you just use "X" ?