With passports having an "X" gender designation available this month, demand for these gender-neutral documents could spike, according to a new report by the Williams Institute, an LGBTQ+ public-policy think tank.
Nearly 17,000 of the nation's more than 1 million nonbinary LGBTQ+ residents are expected to request an official gender-neutral identity document from the state department, The Hill reported.
An estimated 16,700 people will request the new marker on their passports this year, according to the Williams Institute, representing roughly 1.4% of the country's nonbinary LGBTQ+ population, The Hill added.
Currently, 21 states and the District of Columbia allow residents to select an X gender marker for their driver's licenses, which has been relatively popular among individuals identifying as neither male nor female, according to The Hill.
In Vermont, more than 30% of the state's nonbinary LGBTQ+ population have requested gender-neutral driver's licenses, meaning nearly 13% will likely request the X designation on their passports, according to the Williams Institute.
In Virginia, which issues the largest number of X gender driver's licenses per year, just 3% of nonbinary LGBTQ+ people are expected to request a gender-neutral passport, The Hill reported.
The passport demand could be lower in states that already offer the option for driver's licenses, according to the Williams Institute, because nonbinary LGBTQ+ people already have at least one identity document that accurately reflects their gender.
Accurate identity documents can be critical to the health and safety of nonbinary, gender non-conforming, and transgender people, and inaccurate IDs have been associated with higher rates of harassment and discrimination, The Hill reported.
Almost one-third of trans people who presented an identity document with a name or gender inconsistent with their perceived gender reported being harassed, assaulted or discriminated against, according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey.
Other research has found that individuals are more likely to be questioned by agents with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) if the gender marker on their passport is incorrect, making it more difficult to navigate public spaces like security checkpoints.
TSA last week said it was working to add an X gender designation to its TSA PreCheck application, and expects the gender-neutral option to be available by the end of the year.
The new marker on U.S. passports will be available beginning April 11, the state department said, adding that the option will also be available for other forms of documentation sometime next year.
Younger age groups are more likely than older generations to identify as nonbinary, indicating that the demand for gender-neutral documents will rise in the future.
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