A judge on Tuesday ruled the State Department violated federal law when it denied a passport to an intersex person because they do not identify as male or female.Judge R. Brooke Jackson of the U.S. District Court of Colorado in his ruling stated there was “no evidence that the (State) Department followed a rational decision-making process in deciding to implement its binary-only gender passport” in Dana Zzyym’s case.
Zzyym, who lives in Colorado, is the associate director of the U.S. affiliate of the Organization Intersex International. Zzyym is also a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy.
Zzyym applied for a passport in 2014 in order to attend a conference in Mexico City. The State Department told Zzyym that it denied the application because it was “unable to fulfill your request to list your sex as ‘X.’
Zzyym provided the Colorado Passport Agency with additional documentation in order to prove their intersex identity with the State Department with their second passport application.
This second application was also denied. Jackson in his ruling ordered the U.S. Passport Agency to reconsider its decision not to issue a passport to Zzyym.
“Today’s decision is great news, but I realize it is the first step in a long battle,” said Zzyym in a statement that Lambda Legal, which filed a lawsuit on their behalf, issued. “Every day, I am forced to suffer the consequences of decisions made for me as a child. I shouldn’t have to suffer at the hands of my government — a government I proudly and willingly served — as well. It’s a painful hypocrisy that, simply because I refused to lie about my gender on a government document, the government would ignore who I am.”
Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Paul D. Castillo described the ruling as “an important victory for Dana Zzyym and other intersex and non-binary citizens who simply want to be recognized and respected for who they are, to live openly and authentically, and to have their government recognize them for who they are.”
The State Department earlier this year asked the court to dismiss Zzyym’s lawsuit.
A State Department spokesperson on Tuesday declined to comment on the ruling and Zzyym’s case.