July 30, 2018 at 1:54 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
NCTE: State Dept. transgender passport holder policy has not changed

The National Center for Transgender Equality has pushed back against reports the State Department is retroactively revoking the passports of transgender people.

The National Center for Transgender Equality has pushed back on reports that suggest the State Department is retroactively revoking trans women’s passports.

“them.”, an LGBT-themed website that Condé Nast owns, on Friday reported two trans women in recent weeks were unable to renew their passports because of their gender identity.

Danni Askini, executive director of Gender Justice League, a Seattle-based advocacy group, told “them.” her request to renew her passport was denied last month because she “failed to disclose” she is trans. Askini said the U.S. Passport Office also told her she needed to prove she had transitioned, even though she had had a passport with a female gender marker for 20 years.

Askini first discussed her experience in a series of tweets she wrote on June 29.

Askini on July 19 tweeted she received a temporary passport and was able to travel to Stockholm.

Janus Rose, a New York-based technology researcher, on July 25 tweeted a U.S. Passport Office in South Carolina told her “the government has *retroactively invalidated* the changer of gender marker it authorized on my passport last year.”

“They won’t renew my passport w/ correct name & gender until i submit a new doctors note,” tweeted Rose.

“She basically told me that even though the government had changed my gender marker in the last year, that was a mistake,” Rose told “them.”, recalling the phone call she received from a woman who works at the U.S. Passport Center in South Carolina.

A State Department spokesperson with whom the Washington Blade spoke on Monday declined to comment on Rose’s and Askini’s claims.

“Every applicant who applies for a U.S. passport undergoes extensive vetting of their identity, claim to U.S. citizenship and entitlement to a passport,” added the spokesperson. “When a passport applicant presents a certification from a medical physician stating that the applicant has undergone or is receiving appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, a new passport will be issued with an updated gender marker.”

The spokesperson also told the Blade sex-reassignment surgery is “not a prerequisite for updating the gender marker in a passport and documents proving sexual reassignment surgery are not required.”

The State Department on its website also notes trans passport applicants must provide an ID “that resembles your current appearance” and a passport photo “that resembles your current appearance.” Trans passport applicants must also provide “proof of legal name change (if applicable.)”

Gillian Branstetter of the National Center for Transgender Equality on Monday said “the longstanding passport gender marker policy has not changed.”

“NCTE has investigated recent concerns about passport processing for transgender people,” she told the Blade. “All of the incidents we have seen involved unusual circumstances and bureaucratic mistakes by the passport agency and have caused very unfortunate hardship and anxiety for our community members.”

Branstetter added NCTE is “closely monitoring the issue and are vigilant for any attack on the rights of our community.”

“them.” published their article against the backdrop of continued criticism over the Trump administration’s policies towards LGBTI Americans.

A federal court in Denver in June 2017 reopened the case of Dana Zzyym, an intersex person who sued the State Department after it denied them a passport with ‘X’ as their gender.

The Family Research Council and Alliance Defending Freedom are among the anti-LGBTI groups that took part in a religious freedom conference the State Department held in D.C. last week. Jack Phillips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple because of his religious beliefs, was among those who spoke at a religious freedom event the Department of Justice hosted on Monday.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month ruled in favor of Phillips.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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