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State Department allows for 'X' gender on passports as TSA starts gender neutral screening

"X" will be available as a gender option for other State Department documents starting next year.

Published: March 31, 2022 5:58pm

Updated: March 31, 2022 8:04pm

The State Department on Thursday announced that US Citizens will be able to choose "X" as their gender rather than "Male" or "Female" on their passports, while the Transportation Security Administration said it will start offering "gender-neutral screening" at airport checkpoints.

The announcements, which came on the "Transgender Day of Visibility," follow the Biden administration's promises to be more "inclusive" of the LGBT+ community.

The TSA announced that it received $18.6 million "to complete the development, testing, and deployment of algorithm updates" for its Advanced Imaging Technology.

This will create "new standards for screening transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming airline passengers at TSA checkpoints to improve the screening experience for all passengers," the agency said. The updates, which the TSA says will "advance civil rights," will roll out later this year.

Starting this May, the TSA is "updating its screening procedures to better serve transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming travelers through less invasive screening procedures for passengers who trigger the AIT scanner in a sensitive area," the agency said.

The TSA admitted that this will "reduce the number of pat downs" until the gender-neutral technology is in place but claimed that security would not be compromised.

That same day, the State Department announced that it had "reached another milestone in our work to better serve all U.S. citizens, regardless of their gender identity," by allowing citizens to pick "X" as their gender on their passport application starting April 11.

"X" will be available as a gender option for other State Department documents starting next year.

The change comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in June that citizens applying for a U.S. passport could "self-select their gender and were no longer required to submit any medical documentation, even if their selected gender differed from their other citizenship or identity documents."

The TSA is also working to include "X" as a gender option for TSA PreCheck by the end of this year.

"On this internationally recognized day for the transgender community, TSA is proud to announce significant initiatives as a direct result of close partnership with community stakeholders," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said.

"Over the coming months, TSA will move swiftly to implement more secure and efficient screening processes that are gender neutral, as well as technological updates that will enhance security and make TSA PreCheck® enrollment more inclusive. These combined efforts will greatly enhance airport security and screening procedures for all," he claimed.

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