New Life Breathed Into Intersex Navy Veteran’s Fight Against State Department Passport Denial


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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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A federal district court has reopened the case of Navy veteran and intersex person Dana Zzyym seeking a passport from the Department of State that would list Zzyym’s gender as neither male, nor female.

Zzyym has been unable to travel abroad because for the last three years, the State Department has denied Zzyym’s requests for a passport. In May, the department confirmed it only recognizes male or female on passport forms, not “intersex” or “X,” as Zzyym listed on the application form. Zzyym wrote “I am not male or female,” but that didn’t appear to shift the State Department’s policy on the matter.

But now that a federal district court in Denver has reopened the case, the State Department must submit information justifying its decision to deny Zzymm a passport, The Washington Post reports.

The judge will then review the State Department’s rationale and determine whether it is constitutional or not. If it’s ruled unconstitutional, the judge could order the State Department to change its policy.

Zzyym wants a passport to continue work abroad on behalf of the the Intersex Campaign for Equality.

“It’s not hard to place a gender marker on the passport that accurately reflects who they are,” Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Counsel Paul Castillo told The Washington Post. “Many countries have adopted an ‘X’ marker other than male or female, and we have states considering moving forward.”

“Oregon has already adopted a third gender marker with respect to drivers licenses and state IDs,” Castillo added. “Forcing Dana to lie about who they are is not the answer.”

Surgeries conducted when Zzyym was as a child failed to correct ambiguous genitals and left only permanent scarring, but Zzyym’s parents decide to list a gender of male.

Zzyym enlisted in the Navy in 1978 and served as a machinist mate for six years.

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