The implications of Gender X passports

Gender X as a third gender option on passports

Gender X is the alternative, third option for gender in official documentation. Though it exists in various forms of personal documentation around the world, including the UK, this is the first time it will debated as an option for UK passports.

At the Liberal Democrats Party Conference (4-8 October) the party raised Gender X for sex and gender diverse passport application as part of their equality policy paper. They have also included several LGBT+ issues, such as transgender awareness and LGBT+ bullying.

What this will potentially mean is that British passport holders who do not feel like they are represented by the 'M' (male) or 'F' (female) can use 'X' to denote their gender identity.

Helping equalise intersex people

Recent years have seen improvements in the recognition of those people for whom the gender or sex they were assigned at birth does not fit with their real identity. In particular, transgender and intersex people, around the world, have had issues with official documentation, such as passports and birth certificates.

The Lib Dems hope that the introduction of Gender X passports will allow intersex people and gender diverse people - who don't identify as a binary gender (M or F) - to be recognised in an official capacity. As the passport is a global tool for identification, giving 'X' as a gender option for passports is a matter of fairness and equality.

Its inclusion can also be used as a launching platform for awareness of Intersex and gender identity issues, promoting a freedom with representation. A historical moment in the history of the passport.

Unspecified gender markers exist around the world

The use of an unspecified gender marker in Britain would bring it in line with a number of countries around the world using it on their passports, such as Australia - who allowed their first 'X' passport way back in 2003.

There are, however, risks associated with choosing X for your passport. As with same-sex couples who change their names so that all the members of their family share the same last name, or some of the same, surnames to show their familial bond, those selecting gender X will be ''outed'' by their passport at border control points.

As with many LGBT+ equality issues, less progressive countries can pose a issue of safety for those who openly represent themselves as such. Having an 'X' passport could put a person in danger in a country that is not tolerant or does not agree with alternative gender identities

This will not, hopefully, put off those who would potentially use this gender option for their passport but it is an issue that is worth being aware of.

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