Traveling While Trans: Does “X” Mark the Spot?
Having a non-binary gender option is great, but I doubt I’ll be switching.
Last week, the United States began offering a third gender option, “X”, on passport applications. This update was announced by the Department of Homeland Security on the Trans Day of Visibility, March 31, as one of a number of planned changes to make air travel easier for trans, non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming passengers.
The U.S. has lagged behind other nations in this regard; by the fall of 2021, over a dozen countries offered a non-binary or third gender option on passports. Many people throughout the world live outside of the boundaries of male and female, and have done so throughout human history. We should not have to misgender ourselves to gain access to documents and services that cisgender people take for granted.
As welcome as this news is to many, some question why we need to have gender markers on identification documents at all. While I feel that having more gender options to choose from is a good thing, I am also sympathetic to this view. I worry that having an “X” on my ID will be more likely to subject me to scrutiny by airport security, not less.
Opinion | I'm transgender. I won't be getting an X on my passport.
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Besides the hassle it would take to update the gender markers on my passport and other ID documents a second time — having legally changed from “F” to “M” in 2014 — I just don’t think it would make any positive difference in how I am perceived or interacted with. I rarely need to show my ID for any reason, and even if I did have a non-binary marker, that would be no guarantee against misgendering or harassment.
Carrying Our Genders In Our Wallets
My non-binary identity cannot be reduced to a single letter on a piece of plastic.
I also fly very infrequently; I haven’t handled my passport since before the pandemic began. I’ve always disliked…