On Wednesday, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken made a startling announcement: Americans will no longer be required to have medical documentation for certifying the gender they choose on their passports, even if it does not match the gender identification listed on other documents. Additionally, Blinken also stated that the Biden administration’s decision to send American passports into a tailspin will also come complete with the provision for a “third gender option,” for individuals who identify as neither male nor female.
According to Blinken, the Biden administration “will be updating [its] procedures to allow applicants to self-select their gender as ‘M’ or ‘F,'” adding that medical certification will no longer be required for this self-selection. Blinken based this change upon the argument that some applicants’ self-selected gender may not align with the gender listed on their identity documents, including citizenship documents.
Today we are taking important steps toward ensuring the fair treatment of LGBTQI+ U.S. citizens. https://t.co/tfNnTUQmsp
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) June 30, 2021
linken also continued on to detail how the Department is moving in the direction of including a gender option “for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport,” though he also warned about various challenges that could stand as a roadblock to this addition. For instance, Blinken noted that adding this third option is “technologically complex,” and it will also take significant time for major updates across various systems.
Biden has placed a massive emphasis on gender ever since campaigning for president, with a particular focus on transgender. Biden claimed that he would “ensure all transgender individuals have access to identification documents that reflect their gender identity,” and he is a strong advocate for the option “X” on government identification, for individuals who identify as neither male nor female. This government identification can include passports and other key ID documents.
Republican representatives assailed the Biden administration for taking brazen part in the “culture war train,” given the State Department’s recent moves with regards to changing American passports.
Moreover, the highly complex technological process for adding a third gender option will take significant time, especially with the anticipated increase in new applications for passports from individuals who want to replace old passports that do not align with their gender identities. However, these requests will increase the enormous backlog already taking place with passports now.
Massive delays with passports have occurred as a result of the Wuhan virus. Previously, the State Department was taking approximately 6 to 8 weeks to process passports, though the process time is now around 18 weeks. Furthermore, individuals who paid for expedited passport services, with an expected turnaround time of 2 to 3 weeks, are facing wait times for up to 12 weeks.