This article was published on November 4th, 2021
Gender identity is a very important topic in today’s world. As we continue to learn about gender identity and sexuality, we increasingly understand that people can identify as male, female, or gender fluid. Gender can help us feel included, and they help us be inclusive of other people and their needs. When we recognize and respect people’s gender identity, it makes everyone feel welcome.
The topic of gender markers on official documents has been a hot topic issue. People that are strong proponents of inclusive gender markers make the case that everyone should feel welcome. The sentiment is easy to identify with. When someone refers to us as something we aren’t, it can make us feel uneasy.
Currently, fifteen countries worldwide recognize some form of the third gender. However, this is nothing new if we look at history. Many ancient civilizations included a third gender, and it was common knowledge amongst people living in those civilizations. In North America, Native tribes recognized gender fluidity with a third category called “two-spirit.” The Lakota tribe in North America has four genders that allow people to express themselves in a way they most identify with. In Mexico, there are Muxe’s which are third-gender people. Even looking back at Mesopotamian mythology, we see the earliest form of a third gender. The goddess Ninmah was regarded as neither male nor female amongst her followers.
In most English-speaking countries, a third gender is controversial, and it is difficult to understand why. We need to understand that gender-neutral pronouns are not specific to English. Argentina is paving the way for gender-inclusive language in Spanish. Currently, in Argentina, people are changing the way the language works, and Spanish is rooted in masculine and feminine words and pronouns. The change is not as controversial as changes in English-speaking countries. Nonetheless, in the English-speaking world, we are starting to follow suit. We are beginning to enact laws that require us to include everyone as they are.
Recently the US State Department issued a passport with an X gender marker. The move is a strong message in support of inclusivity for all. Trans, non-binary and intersex people previously had no way of identifying as their true selves on a passport. As of now, there is only one passport that has been issued with this gender marker. However, a full rollout is sometimes expected in early 2022. The government needs to make necessary administrative changes to accommodate systems for the change. After 2022 any American will have the option to self-identify as M (male), F (female), or X in their passport. The US government says the policy aims to end violence and discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.
The move should not be something revolutionary, and it is not something new. Maria Sjodin, from outright international, comments that “Offering a nonbinary gender marker is not revolutionary – it is simply a reflection of reality which will enable people who do not identify as male or female to be recognized as their true selves.” This is a huge step in the right direction of including everyone. When we start to include everyone, people can embrace their lives and live how they choose. Nobody deserves to feel unwelcome in today’s world.
When the passport is in full effect, there are bound to be people who want to overturn the policy. It leaves us wondering why the world can be such a harsh place. For everyone in the queer community, the policy is a shift in the right direction for inclusivity, and we should all celebrate the moment. Let us know how the new passport makes you feel included in the comments section.