The lawsuit notes that Dana Alix Zzyym, a resident of Fort Collins, Colo., who is the associate director of the U.S. affiliate of the Organization Intersex International, applied for a passport in September 2014 in order to travel to Mexico City this week for an international conference that will focus on intersex-specific issues.
Those who are applying for a passport for the first time must submit a copy of their birth certificate.
The State Department in a Sept. 24, 2014, letter to Zzyym stated it denied the application because it was “unable to fulfill your request to list your sex as ‘X,’ even though doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed the gender listed on the birth certificate as “unknown.” The State Department said Zzyym could receive a passport with a male or female gender marker or withdraw the application.
Zzyym on Dec. 19, 2014, provided additional documentation to the Colorado Passport Agency for the State Department to prove their intersex identity. This second application was denied 10 days later.
Zzyym on Feb. 26 requested that the State Department reconsider its decision. An April 10 letter said this petition had been denied.
The lawsuit names Secretary of State John Kerry and Sherman Portell, director of the Colorado Agency for the State Department, as defendants. It further alleges the State Department violated the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Administrative Prodecure Act by denying Zzyym a passport that accurately reflects their gender.
“When I was a child, I had no say in what was done to me in order to make me ‘fit’ in some acceptable category,” said Zzyym in a press release that Lambda Legal released on Monday. “I continue to suffer the consequences of those decisions today. But, as an adult, I can take a stand. I am not male, I am not female, I am intersex, and I shouldn’t have to choose a gender marker for my official U.S. identity document that isn’t me.”
The State Department on Monday declined to comment on Zzyym’s lawsuit.
Lambda Legal in its press release notes Australia, India, Malta, Nepal and New Zealand are among the countries that issue passports without female or male gender markers. The International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency that sets standards for documents used for international travel, recognizes the “X” gender marker.
Lambda Legal announced its lawsuit on Intersex Awareness Day, which is designed to raise awareness of intersex issues around the world.