SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The State Department says on Monday, April 11, the United States will become the first federal government agency to offer the ‘X’ gender marker on an identity document. This means Americans applying for a passport will be able to say they don’t identify as male or female. At least 15 countries offer this to people, including Argentina, Canada and India. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken shared a statement on March 31, saying in part:

“We reaffirm our commitment to promoting and protecting the freedom, dignity, and equality of all persons – including transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming persons around the world.”

OzarksFirst spoke with someone at The GLO Center who identifies as non-binary. Arianna Beckham says not having to choose between male or female will be meaningful and stress-relieving.

“To have that ‘X’ to clarify that I don’t fit within the binary, it’s something that I’ve searched for my whole life,” Beckham said. “I recently came out as non-binary this past June. I’ve struggled with the feminine identity, and so having that option even as small as an ‘X’ on a passport is super affirming.”

Beckham says ever since she came out, she has been stumbled by forms asking which gender she is.

“It’s female, male or ‘other.’ We have that thing in society where we need to ‘other’ people. I’m not an ‘other.’ It’s not a new thing. So, it’s nice to have someone recognize that and acknowledge that.”

She tells OzarksFirst she’s had to explain her identity to people several times, and that can be mentally draining.

“Just having someone solidify even at the State Department saying that ‘X’ is valid, you can go travel to all these different countries and say, ‘Look, this is my gender. It’s ‘X.’ I don’t have to explain anything to you. It’s there. We’re done.”

Even if ‘X’ doesn’t match the gender on someone’s birth certificate or other legal documents, they’ll still be allowed to put the marker on their passport. As The GLO Center’s co-president, Beckham tells OzarksFirst she was fascinated to learn this.

“That helps with so much self-worth. That’s what we’re trying to do here. Having an entire State Department saying, ‘We see you, you’ve done all this work and we validate your experience.’ There’s so many things in our life where we’re in survival mode. We’re just trying to be accepted. We’re just trying to have people see us in society. This is the first step of really getting our community to thrive and to be seen and heard by the State Department.”

Beckham tells OzarksFirst there are lots of people who struggle with their identity around the world. She encourages those dealing with this in the Ozarks to consider checking out The GLO Center.

“I’ve been with GLO for two years so being able to be in this supportive environment and be with a supportive partner has helped me find my true self as someone who is non-binary.”

The State Department says it plans to make the ‘X’ identification option available on other documents in 2023.