In the United States, a 2021 study estimated around 1.2 million adults identified as non-binary or gender X, meaning they do not identify as male or female. Such a large percentage of the population falls into this category but is not recognized in many parts of US legislation.
Thankfully, things are starting to turn around, with new legislation recently announced in conjunction with Transgender Day of Visibility, an important annual event on March 31 that celebrates transgender people and sheds light on the adversity this community faces.
Changes to airport protocols
Passport regulation will soon change on April 11th to allow an X where gender is specified, also removing the need for medical confirmation of gender in the application process. This move is to respect people’s rights and align their government documents with their true gender identity. Many countries have already implemented this change, dating as far back as 2003 in Australia, with Denmark, Argentina, Iceland, Nepal, and New Zealand soon following suit.
U.S. airport security is also adding a gender-neutral option for scanners and screenings. Non-binary travelers will now have the choice of using an “X” lane, increasing comfortability when physical contact has to be made in the security procedures. What’s more, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers will receive training on how to make this screening less invasive. The TSA also aims to work with airlines to promote acceptance of gender X, helping educate staff on the importance of inclusion in this area.
“DHS is committed to protecting the traveling public while ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender identity, is treated with respect,” said Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a statement.
Why is including X and trans people important?
Many non-binary and trans people face daily discrimination about their gender identity, this includes someone misgendering them in a restaurant to full-blown violence. For this reason, many experiences enhanced “gender dysphoria,” clinically significant distress or discomfort due to a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth to their gender identity.
This can lead to serious mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. The U.S. Transgender Survey revealed that there is even a higher than average rate of attempted suicide among transgender individuals, and that rate increases with trans people of color.
These regulation changes are a good start to ensuring that this community is given the safety, recognition, and respect they deserve.