(CBS SF) — Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Santa Clara, introduced a bill Tuesday to direct the U.S. State Department to add a third gender option to U.S. passports for applicants who do not identify as male or female.
The third option, “unspecified,” would be available for U.S. passports, passport cards and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad and would not require applicants to present proof of their gender identity via signed affidavit from their doctor.
The bill would also allow applicants to forego identifying their gender as not male or female on their passport if they feel it would be a detriment to their safety when traveling.
Khanna credited New Hampshire state Rep. Gerri Cannon, a transgender woman, for advocating to allow residents of her state to declare their gender as unspecified on their drivers’ licenses and argued that option should be available to the entire country.
“Respecting every American’s gender must extend to travel abroad,” Khanna said. “The freedom to move and express yourself no matter what should be guaranteed in this country.”
Nearly a dozen countries, including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, India and New Zealand, already offer the option of more than two gender options on their passport applications.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency that governs international travel document standards, also recognizes the “unspecified” gender option.
LGBTQ and transgender rights activist groups like the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Human Rights Campaign and the Intersex Campaign for Equality, have already given the bill their blessing.
“Many members of the LGBTQ community identify as non-binary, and non-binary individuals deserve to have their gender acknowledged and accurately reflected on vital government documents like passports,” Human Rights Campaign government affairs director David Stacy said.
“Non-binary people already face disproportionately high rates of discrimination, harassment and violence, and this risk of harm is significantly exacerbated when forced to present incongruent legal documents that do not accurately reflect who they are,” Stacy said.
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.