CARSON CITY – Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a coalition of attorneys general Wednesday in filing an amicus brief in Zzyym v. Pompeo to defend the rights of gender non-binary individuals.
Under current federal policy, individuals who are neither male nor female (non-binary individuals) face a threat that their U.S. passport applications will be denied. In the brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the attorneys general assert that individuals deserve full legal recognition of their accurate gender identity on passports provided by the U.S. State Department.
“Passports are an identification document, and should reflect how individuals self-identify, especially in Nevada where residents can already obtain non-gender specific drivers licenses,” said Ford. “With this brief, we’re urging the Court to both see and respect all individuals, regardless of whether they identify as male, female or non-binary.”
The case of Zzyym v. Pompeo centers around an individual who, in accordance with their gender identity, requested a passport with an “X” as the marker for the sex field of their passport instead of an “M” for male or an “F” for female. Zzyym is both intersex (ambiguous sex characteristics) and non-binary (self-identifies as neither male nor female).
Despite providing the Department with documentation on their intersex status, the Department told Zzyym to choose either the male or female designation and subsequently rejected Zzyym’s application for failing to complete the sex field accordingly. The denial in the Zzyym case was solely due to the applicant’s non-binary gender—a sex designation that has been legally recognized in multiple jurisdictions across the U.S. and globally.
The “X” designation conforms to the standard for individuals with an unspecified gender set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized agency within the United Nations that, among other things, establishes norms for passport specifications.
In September 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado found that the Department’s gender policy was arbitrary and capricious, and that the passport application denial was in excess of the Department’s statutory authority. The federal government appealed the decision and it is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
In addition to Nevada, the following states participated in this brief: California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.