Sun | Jul 5, 2020

Court rules US gov't cannot deny passport over refusing to pick gender

Published:Thursday | September 20, 2018 | 10:18 AM
Colorado resident Dana Zzyym - AP photo

DENVER (AP) — U.S. officials cannot deny a passport application from an intersex Colorado resident based solely on a refusal to select male or female for gender, a federal judge said Wednesday.

The U.S. State Department’s varied explanations for rejecting the application weren’t reasonable, U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson said in his ruling, forcing him to set aside the decision as “arbitrary and capricious.”

The ruling is limited, but advocates said they hope it leads to expanded gender choices on federal identification.

Dana Zzyym, who was born with ambiguous physical sexual characteristics and identifies as nonbinary in gender, not as male or female, sued in 2015.

Zzyym had requested “X″ as a gender marker on a passport application, and it was denied.

The judge in 2016 ordered the State Department to reconsider.

Zzyym applied again and refused to select either option provided on the passport application, feeling that it would be untruthful.

The department again denied the application in 2017.

Jackson dismissed the department’s explanations for rejecting the passport, including concerns that it would complicate the process of verifying an applicant’s identity and determining eligibility based on federal, state and local databases.

The agency can legally reject passport applications for a good reason, but “adherence to a series of internal policies that do not contemplate the existence of intersex people is not a good reason,” the judge wrote.

The State Department said in a written statement that it was reviewing the decision and coordinating with the Department of Justice on next steps.

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