Navy veteran suing over denial of gender neutral passport

A Navy veteran who identifies as neither male nor female is suing the State Department for refusing to administer a passport that does not specify whether they are a “he” or a “she.”

Dana Zzyym, 58, was born with ambiguous sex characteristics and identifies as intersex, according to Lambda Legal (WQAD)- who is handling the case.  Zzyym is referred to with the pronouns “they and “them” because of their gender neutrality.  They are hoping to force the State Department to issue a passport with “X” next to the genders of male and female -denoting Zzyym is of both sexes.

That State Department told CNN in a statement, “like other federal, state and local government agencies, requires the use of binary (M or F) sex identifiers.”

According to an attorney on Zzyym’s legal team, Paul Castillo, “They have to either lie on their passport application about their gender identity and violate the law or not apply for a passport at all.”

Lambda Legal believes the policy of the passport program, which is overseen by the State Deparment, is discriminatory.

The Navy veteran’s birth certificate lists the sex as “unknown” but the parents and doctor decided to raise Zzyym as a boy, according to Lambda Legal.

“Dana is being deprived of the right to lawfully exit the United States because of personal characteristics, and that’s discrimination, pure and simple,” Castillo said.

The State Department defended their policy in a court motion:

“Allowing passports with sex markers other than ‘F’ or ‘M’ would compromise the Department’s efforts to prevent identity theft and passport fraud by upending the Department’s long-established system for validating the identity and citizenship of passport applicants and requiring the Department to rely on less reliable and less uniform identification documents.”

Zzyym is described as intersex, the term for people who are born with chromosomes, genitals, or reproductive organs that are not 100% biologically male or female, according to the human rights organization Amnesty International.

According to a study in the American Journal of Human Biology, as many as 2% of people have been born something other than male and female.

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