Push for gender neutral passport options gets stronger

Dana Zzyym talks about Zzyym's lawsuit against requiring people to pick a gender to get a passport. AP Photo.

by Sophia Babb
Journalism Intern

Dana Zzyym, a Navy veteran from Denver, is fighting for a third gender option on passports.

Zzyym identifies as intersex, although they were born with undefined sexual characteristics and raised as a boy. They brought their case to the Colorado State Department on Wednesday to push for passports that aren’t only defined by two gender options.

According to Savannah Now, U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson hinted his support for Zzyym’s case Wednesday. "A lot of things are changing in our world," said Jackson. He leaned towards forcing the State Department to allow Zzyym to receive a passport with a gender neutral choice.

The opposition to Zzymm’s case, U.S. Attorney Ryan Parker, argued the practicality of allowing gender neutral options. “Largely because of the agency's reliance on state driver's licenses and birth certificates, moving beyond two genders would upend the State Department's ability to verify identities,” Parker said.

A state policy counsel for the National Center for Transgender Equality, Arli Christian, called Parker’s argument “nonsensical”.

"The idea that the gender marker on the passport is in any way tied to the state document is untrue," she said.

Christian says she "does not know of any statewide forms that provide a box to be marked other than male or female, but some states allow other gender options on an individual basis.”

"For the most accurate identification document, there should be a non-binary option," Christian said. "In terms of the assertion of non-binary identity, it has gotten a lot more attention recently, and legally speaking, the policies are catching up.”

The Colorado State Department has allowed transgender individuals to change their gender on their passport, but only with a doctor’s certification and with only male and female gender options.

Zzyym’s case has been the quintessential legal anomaly that gender neutral individuals face. The gender on their birth certificate was originally left blank, but now says “unknown”.

Zzyym served in the U.S. Navy as a man before identifying as intersex, and now lives in Fort Collins.

Copyright 2016 The Gayly - 7/22/16 @ 12:20 p.m. CDT