[TW misgendering, transphobia]
So what does a gender neutral passport mean? In the simplest sense, it’s putting an X instead of male or female in the gender marker box. That’s literally it. Of course this has bigger implications, which I will go into in a minute, because in the most literal sense, it is a letter to indicate that the person in possession of the passport does not identify as male or female.
In a bigger sense, what does this mean?
It means that more identities could be acknowledged, which is important for self-esteem, because being outside the societal gender binary is a terrifying experience at the best of times. It also means that in cases of using passports as ID, as I know some people do, it will stop the bullshit of “Well, I don’t think you look like a girl” that I have seen shopkeepers use as an excuse not to serve someone.
It also means that, when travelling, border patrols in airports or ports will have to be more sensitive to travellers’ needs, which is always a good thing. We hear constantly about the institutional racism and sexism in these positions, and this change may finally force the authorities to properly address these issues.
It’s not going to solve all the problems: just because UK (and in my biased opinion more likely Scottish passports, because our government seems more open to having these conversations) passports will acknowledge and respect the identities of citizens doesn’t mean other countries will. Which means the UK government will have to step up and protect its citizens when they are travelling, which is going to be a fight all of its own.
It’s a messy issue, and it’s going to take a lot of work to get right. Be prepared for a lot about this in the news in the coming months, because those of us outside the binary are getting more vocal, and we’re damn sure we’re going to make our voices heard.