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RELEASE: Khanna, Gillibrand, Baldwin Urge Biden to Add 3rd Gender Marker on Federal IDs

May 18, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and nearly two dozen of their colleagues sent President Joseph P. Biden a letter urging his administration to add a gender inclusive marker (“X”) on all federal IDs. 

Rep. Khanna first introduced this legislation in the 116th Congress following the tremendous leadership of Gerri Cannon, a transgender New Hampshire State Legislator who introduced a similar initiative at the state level. Gender-neutral markers are already available on state-level IDs in 20 US states and the District of Columbia, as well as on passports in over 10 countries. Yet, as of 2015, only 11% of trans people nationwide had an accurate name and gender marker on all IDs and records. 

Thus, the Representatives and Senators are urging President Biden to follow through on his campaign pledge to “ensure all transgender individuals have access to identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity” and add a gender marker onto federal IDs. 

“No one should have to lie about who they are on a federal document,” said Rep. Khanna. “Trans, non-binary, and intersex individuals should be able to obtain accurate documents without facing unnecessary and discriminatory barriers. Our letter simply points out that every American should be able to change their gender marker, without medical sign-off or application fees, if it is incorrect – a basic right that isn’t currently available in our country. A huge step toward LGBTQ+ equality, I am hopeful President Biden is receptive and opts to make this important change without further Congressional action.”

“Many Americans lie every time they show their Federal or State Id’s,” said Rep. Gerri Cannon, NH Strafford County District 18. “These individuals identify as transgender, non-binary or Intersex. The M or F listed on their legal identification does not reflect who they really are. 20 States and numerous Counties have recognized this problem and now offer a gender neutral “X” in addition to an “M” or “F” gender designations on their ID's. New Federal policies will ensure that individuals of all genders have access to honest and accurate documentation.”

“Including a gender-neutral “X” marker for federal IDs underscores our continued support for trans and gender non-binary Americans,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “Your license is a key to opportunity, and it should recognize the fullness of who you are. This is a long overdue and necessary step towards dismantling discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. I am proud to co-lead this effort in the Senate and strongly urge the Biden administration to act swiftly so that all people can obtain basic identification without discriminatory barriers.”

“We must lead the way on fostering a more inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Sen. Baldwin. “This is a commonsense approach that will support transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals who work for the federal government and allow them to feel safe and welcome in their workplace.”

“For many transgender people, everyday activities can become a source of unnecessary stress, harassment and discrimination because our IDs do not match our gender identity,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, Deputy Executive Director at the National Center for Transgender Equality. “It’s time for a gender-neutral marker option on all federal IDs. Working with the White House on these issues this year, we’re confident that these document changes we need will get done in a timely way and that this critical change will help transgender people to better navigate our daily lives.”

“People who are transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, genderfluid, gender-nonconforming, and any other gender should have the freedom to live their full and authentic life — this includes having legal documentation that reflects their gender identity,” said Jacqueline Ayers, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “The reality is that people hold a diversity of gender identities, and the language we use on legal documents should reflect that reality. Planned Parenthood thanks Rep. Khanna and Sens. Gillibrand and Baldwin for leading this critical effort to bring us one step closer to allowing all people to live their lives free from discrimination and not restricted to the box placed around them by society.” 

“Lambda Legal enthusiastically welcomes this letter from Representative Khanna and Senators Gillibrand and Baldwin to President Biden,” said Avatara Smith-Carrington, Tyron Garner Memorial Law Fellow, Lambda Legal. “We deeply understand the critical importance of having accurate identification documents. Without identification documents that accurately reflect who we are, transgender, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and intersex people are often subjected to further harassment, abuse, and discrimination. From our work to secure accurate birth certificates and drivers’ licenses to the seven-year fight we have waged against the U.S. State Department to secure an accurate U.S. passport for intersex U.S. Navy veteran Dana Zzyym, we have battled recalcitrant bureaucracies and discriminatory agencies. An executive order from this administration would take us, our clients, and our community a long way down the road to true equality and full recognition of our common humanity.”

“Not everyone fits neatly into binary sex or gender categories of female or male,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, US Program Executive Director at Human Rights Watch. “Requiring someone to carry an identification document that does not match their gender identity demeans that person’s dignity and can expose them to humiliation, discrimination and even violence. Human Rights Watch joins Representative Khanna and Senators Gillibrand and Baldwin in calling on President Biden to issue an executive order allowing everyone to elect a female, male or X marker on federal identity documents, based on self-attestation.”

"California was proud to be one of the first states in the country to make it easier for transgender, nonbinary and intersex people to update their state identification documents and create a gender-neutral ID option,” said Tony Hoang, Executive Director-designate, Equality California. “We are proud of the action that the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to advance civil rights and social justice for LGBTQ+ people, including day-one executive orders directing agencies to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We now urge the Administration to follow the lead of California and almost 20 states in creating a gender-neutral marker on federal identification documents. This important action will go a long way in affirming our transgender, intersex, and nonbinary community members."

“The ACLU is thrilled to see Senate and House representatives add their voices to this important issue,” said Arli Christian, Campaign Strategist at the ACLU. “In January we launched They The People, a campaign urging the President to take action to improve access to accurate IDs. We’ve shared stories of people across the country who need accurate IDs, delivered nearly 70,000 signatures to the White House asking for this executive order, and held a Town Hall with the White House LGBT Liaison to discuss solutions.  We look forward to President Biden’s signature on this important order, which will have such a profound impact on the everyday lives of trans, intersex, and non-binary folks across the country.”

House Cosigners: Rep. Blumenauer (OR-03), Rep. Hayes (CT-05), Rep. Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Rep. Jayapal (WA-07), Rep. Kildee (MI-05), Rep. Kilmer (WA-06), Rep. Lowenthal (CA-47), Rep. Moulton (MA-06), Rep. Pocan (WI-07), Rep. Pressley (MA-07), Rep. Scanlon (PA-05), Rep. Schakowsky (IL-09), Rep. Soto (FL-09), Rep. Torres (CA-35), Rep. Watson-Coleman (NJ-12), and Rep. Welch (VT-AL). 

Senate Cosigners: Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Padilla (D-CA), Sen. Warren (D-MA), Sen. Merkley (D-OR), and Sen. Markey (D-MA).

The full text of the letter is available here and below.

 

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The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden,

We write with appreciation for the actions your Administration has already taken to address discrimination against LGBTQ+ communities. Today, we write in hopes that you will take another important step towards equality for transgender, intersex, and nonbinary Americans. We believe that a gender-neutral marker (“X”) should be available on all federal IDs, and that accurate gender markers should be accessible using a self-attestation standard. An executive order to this effect will ensure transgender, non-binary, and intersex individuals can obtain accurate and affirming documents without navigating discriminatory barriers. 

The federal government currently requires gender markers on a variety of identity documents, including US passports. On many of these documents, however, only an “F” or “M” designation is available, and current policies meant to update gender markers make the process of obtaining a gender-neutral marker unnecessarily difficult. For example, agencies often require individuals to produce documents such as medical records to update their IDs. Obtaining these documents typically requires out-of-pocket medical expenses, thereby limiting access to those who merely want to have their information accurately displayed on identifying documents.

In recognition of the need for gender-inclusive ID policies, nearly 20 states have taken action to ensure individuals can simply select an M, F, or X marker on state-level IDs, and a gender-neutral passport with an X gender marker is available in Argentina, Canada, Iceland, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Uruguay, and most of Australia. Despite this, as of 2015 only 11% of trans people nationwide had an accurate name and gender marker on all IDs and records.[3] Stream-lined policies are necessary to ensure that individuals of all genders have access to accurate and honest documentation. We believe that an executive order with the following stipulations could effectively address this issue:  

  • Require all federal agencies that collect and/or display gender markers to include an undesignated or neutral X option.
  • Require these agencies to mandate a self-attestation standard, allowing all individuals to indicate M, F, or X as their gender marker and preventing agencies from imposing discriminatory requirements such as medical records.

Thank you again for your ongoing work to address systemic discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and thank you for your prompt consideration of this important issue.

Sincerely,
 

             
Ro Khanna                             
Member of Congress                        
 

Kirsten Gillibrand

Senator

 

Tammy Baldwin

Senator

 

 

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About the Office

Congressman Khanna represents the 17th District of California, which covers communities in Silicon Valley. Visit his website at khanna.house.gov. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @RepRoKhanna.