A district court in Colorado ruled against the U.S. State Department for denying a passport to an intersex Navy veteran.

In a Nov. 22 decision, Judge R. Brooke Jackson found “no evidence that the Department followed a rational decision-making process in deciding to implement its binary-only gender passport policy.”

The State Department denied a passport to Dana Zzyym, a U.S. citizen and Navy veteran. Zzyym, lawyers for Lambda Legal argued, could not accurately complete a passport application form because there is no other gender marker designation besides male and female.

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“This is an important victory for Dana Zzyym and other intersex and non-binary citizens, who simply want to be recognized and respected for who they are, to live openly and authentically, and to have their government recognize them for who they are,” said Lambda Legal senior attorney Paul D. Castillo, in a news release. “In light of this ruling, we call on the State Department to do the right thing and issue accurate passports that reflect who Dana and all non-binary citizens truly are. Why should Dana – or any non-binary person – be forced to lie about their gender on a passport application when there are other proven solutions already implemented by countries elsewhere?”

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Zzyym served six years in the Navy and attended Colorado State University. Zzyym uses gender-neutral pronouns “they,” “them” and “their.”

“Today’s decision is great news, but I realize it is the first step in a long battle,” Zzyym said, in a news release. “Every day, I am forced to suffer the consequences of decisions made for me as a child. I shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of my government – a government I proudly and willingly served – as well. It’s a painful hypocrisy that, simply because I refused to lie about my gender on a government document, the government would ignore who I am. I hope the State Department will do the right thing now.”

Countries that offer a third gender marker designation include: Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, India and Malta. 


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