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U.S. to allow American passport applicants to choose gender without medical note

U.S. to allow American passport applicants to choose gender without medical note
On Wednesday, the final day of Pride Month, the State Department unveiled a new rule to allow Americans to self-identify their gender on their passport. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

July 1 (UPI) -- The Biden administration has announced Americans will be allowed to select their gender on their passports without the requirement of a medical certification if their self-identified gender does not match that printed on other identity documents.

The State Department announced the new rule Wednesday stating they are also evaluating "the best approach" to adding a gender marker for those who are non-binary, intersex and gender non-conforming.

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"The Department of State is committed to promoting the freedom, dignity and equality of all people -- including LGBTQI+ persons," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement, referring to the initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and those who identify themselves as queer, intersex and other sexual identities.

The move was cheered by advocates of the LGBTQ community with the American Civil Liberties Union calling it a "victory" for those who have sought accurate federal identification.

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"Trans, non-binary and intersex people know who we are and this recognition -- not permission -- is a welcome policy change," it said in a statement.

Charlie Arrowood from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund Name Change Project said in a statement to UPI that the new rule is an important step toward equality and fairness for members of this marginalized community.

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"It is a critical recognition by the government that we ourselves are the arbiters of who we are," Arrowood said, adding that removing the doctor's letter rquirement also removes barriers for those who may lack the funds or ability to access medical care.

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Arrowood said they hope for "swift implementation" of a gender marker for non-binary, intersex and gender non-conforming individuals.

Blinken said the addition of a gender marker will take time as the process is "technologically complex" and will require "extensive systems updates."

State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters that they are "committed to getting this right."

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She also said that those who wish to change the gender on their passports may apply starting Wednesday.

The new rule was a promise Biden made to the LGBTQ community while on the campaign trail and its unveiling Wednesday coincided with the final day of Pride Month, the same day the White House hosted a virtual convening on transgender equality.

The Biden administration also announced the creation of a White House-led interagency working group on safety, inclusion and opportunity for transgender Americans.

The group, the White House said in a statement, will coordinate policies to advance safety, economic opportunity and inclusion for transgender Americans and will include officials from various departments including the Departments of State, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security and others.

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The Human Rights Campaign said the interagency group is an important step to saving lives and addressing violence, discrimination and stigma the trans community faces.

Earlier this month the LGBTQ advocacy group published a report stating 29 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been fatally shot or violently killed so far this year. For all of 2020, there were 44 such deaths, which made it the most violent year it had recorded.

"Our communities need support at every level if we are going to address this epidemic, and we're grateful to have allies in President Biden, Vice President [Kamala] Harris and across the federal government who recognize this crisis for the emergency it is," HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement.

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