GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — You can now mark unspecified or another gender-neutral identity on your U.S. passport. The U.S. State Department announced the change last month.
The change is meant to advance more inclusive policies. The U.S. joins 15 other countries that allow for a third gender option.
Jazz McKinney with the Grand Rapids Pride Center said the change is welcomed.
“A lot of people don’t fall within the male or female binary,” they said. “So, to be able to have that option that can signify something other than male or female will definitely help affirm a lot of people.”
McKinney fears that while the U.S. takes steps to become more third-gender friendly, other countries may not welcome the new update.
“I do feel like you have to be very careful, and because of that, some people may choose not to utilize that option. We’re not sure how other countries will respond to that or if they’ll even know what that means,” said McKinney.
Later this year, the Transportation Security Administration will update its scanners with new technology which will replace gender-based systems to “advance civil rights.” Pat downs post-scan will also become less intrusive.
“TSA screenings are very vulnerable,” McKinney said. “Very exposing, so to have that exposure can be very scary. So, to have the gender passport change will at least give the TSA a heads up that maybe this is something that we don’t announce publicly and maybe this is a special case that we need to take to the side.”
The Grand Rapids City Clerk’s Office will hold Saturday hours on April 23 for those looking to process or enroll for a new passport.