One Colorado Statement on State of Colorado Advocating for Non-Binary Gender Options on U.S. Passports

Denver, CO — One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families released the following statement from Executive Director Daniel Ramos on Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and the Attorneys General of California and Oregon leading a coalition of states in defending the rights of individuals to select a non-binary gender designation on U.S. passports.

“Colorado is leading the way with states like California and Oregon by offering a third gender option that is neither male nor female on a suite of state-issued identity documents, like birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and state identification cards. The recent passage of House Bill 19-1039: Jude’s Law and it’s strong bipartisan support demonstrates that ensuring transgender and non-binary Coloradans have access to identity documents that reflect their authentic selves is truly a nonpartisan issue. It is time for our federal government to follow suit and offer non-binary gender options on federal identity documents.”

Sponsored by the LGBT Caucus co-chairs Representative Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Senator Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, Jude’s Law will cut through the red tape for transgender Coloradans trying to update the gender on their birth certificate, allowing them to have the identification documents that match who they are. Coloradans will be able to update their gender on their birth certificate to M, F, or X — without a surgery, a doctor’s note, or court order. This bill removes both the surgery requirement and court order requirement, allowing trans people the ability to self-identify on their ID document. The bill removes the publication requirement for a name change in order to reflect one’s gender identity. A new birth certificate will be issued instead of an amended birth certificate when updating gender.  Colorado is the third state in the country (including California and Oregon) to have non-binary gender options for both driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

In a brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Zzyym vs. Pompeo, the Attorneys General explain that individuals who do not identify as male or female deserve full legal recognition of their accurate gender identity on passports issued by the U.S. State Department. The Department says it is trying to avoid “matching issues” with federal and state identifying documents. However, multiple states, including Colorado, already issue driver licenses and other forms of identification with a non-binary designation to ensure the public safety and well-being of their residents.

“Coloradans use state-issued identification documents every day to interact with government agencies, law enforcement, and businesses. Providing non-binary identification documents in our state is easy to manage, respects our citizens’ gender identity, and is the right thing to do,” said Weiser. “The federal government needs to catch up with the states that are leading the way when it comes to equality. All Americans should be able to obtain a passport that accurately reflects their gender.”

The case at issue is Zzyym vs. Pompeo. In 2015, Dana Zzyym, a resident of Fort Collins, Colo. who was born intersex and identifies as non-binary, was denied a passport after they did not designate “male” or “female” on their application and instead designated “intersex”. In 2016, a federal judge asked the Department to reconsider its refusal to issue a passport. Following that decision, Zzyym’s application was again denied on the basis of their non-binary gender.

In September 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado found that the Department’s gender policy was arbitrary and capricious and that the passport application denial violated the law. The federal government appealed the decision and it is now before the federal appeals court in Denver.

Attorney General Weiser is joined by the Attorneys General of California, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

A copy of the amicus brief filed in Zzyym v. Pompeo can be found here.

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