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Lambda Legal Continues Fight on Behalf of Intersex Citizen Denied a U.S. Passport!

Lambda Legal Continues Fight on Behalf of Intersex Citizen Denied a U.S. Passport!

LAMBDA LEGAL PRESS RELEASE, Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Contact Tom Warnke: C: 213-841-4503; twarnke@lambdalegal.org
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Lambda Legal Continues Fight on Behalf of Intersex Citizen Denied a U.S. Passport

“In the year since the Court ruled in favor of our client, the State Department doubled-down on its discriminatory male-or-female-only gender policy, again denying Dana an essential document that identifies who they are. This is unconstitutional and must end now.”

(Denver, CO, today on behalf of Dana Zzyym, an intersex citizen and U.S. Navy veteran denied a passport because the U.S. State Department refuses to recognize a gender marker that is neither male nor female.

“Dana has been fighting for almost three years for an essential identity document that accurately reflects who they are,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Paul Castillo said. “The U.S. District Court ordered the State Department to reconsider its binary-only gender policy barring use of a third gender marker on U.S. passports. In the year since the Court ruled in favor of our client, the State Department doubled-down on its discriminatory male-or-female-only gender policy, again denying Dana an essential document that identifies who they are. This is unconstitutional and must end now.

“Several countries issue passports with gender markers other than male or female,” Castillo added. “Earlier this year, Oregon and the District of Columbia both implemented a policy to allow their residents to select ‘X’ as a gender marker for their drivers’ licenses and state IDs, and other states will likely follow suit. If both state and federal jurisdictions can do it, why can’t the U.S. State Department?”

In the brief filed today with the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Lambda Legal argues that the State Department is violating the due process and equal protection guarantees of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by treating Dana differently based on their gender, by denying Dana the ability to travel freely, and by compelling Dana to lie about who they are on the passport application form.

“The State Department is preventing me from doing my job and advocating for the rights of intersex people both in the United States and abroad,” said Zzyym, who serves as associate director of the Intersex Campaign for Equality. “I’m not going to lie on my passport application, and I shouldn’t have to.”

Background

Dana Zzyym, who uses the gender-neutral pronouns “they,” “them” and “their,” was born with ambiguous sex characteristics. Shortly after Dana’s birth, their parents and doctor decided to raise them as a boy. As a result, Dana underwent several irreversible, painful and medically unnecessary surgeries that didn’t work, traumatized Dana and left them with severe scarring.

Many years later, after serving six years in the U.S. Navy, Dana began researching surgeries and came to understand they had been born intersex. Drawing on personal experience, they began educating the public about issues facing intersex people. Dana currently serves as associate director for Intersex Campaign for Equality (also known as the United States affiliate of the Organisation Intersex International (OII-USA)).

As part of their work, Dana was invited to attend the International Intersex Forum in Mexico City in October, 2014, at which time Dana applied for a U.S. passport. The
application requires that the applicant select a gender marker of either ‘male’ or ‘female.’ It also requires first-time applicants to submit evidence of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, which in Dana’s case lists their sex as “unknown.” Notwithstanding the information on their birth certificate and the fact that Dana’s doctors with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs confirm their gender as intersex, Dana’s application for a passport was denied.

In October, 2015, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, asserting that the U.S. State Department violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the federal Administrative Procedure Act, by denying Dana a passport that accurately reflects their gender. The Court issued its ruling in favor of Zzyym on November 22, 2016.

Several countries currently issue passports with gender markers other than “F” (female) or “M” (male), including Australia, India, Malta, Nepal, and New Zealand. Most countries that offer a third gender marker on their passport use the non-specific “X” because it is recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency that sets forth international travel document standards.

Read the brief here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/co_zzyym_20171010_opening-brief-following-reconsideration

Read more about the lawsuit, Zzyym v. Tillerson, here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/co_zzyym-v-tillerson

For more information about intersex issues, visit here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20151026_intersex-101

For more information about The Intersex Campaign for Equality, visit here: http://oii-usa.org/

Handling the case for Lambda Legal are Paul D. Castillo, Demoya Gordon, Hayley Gorenberg, Dru Levasseur, and Camilla B. Taylor, joined by pro-bono co-counsel Michael A. Ponto, Emily E. Chow, and Bryan L. Lynch of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.

Press contact: Tom Warnke, Cell: 213-841-4503: Email: twarnke@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

Tom Warnke
Media Relations Director
(he/him/his)
Lambda Legal
4221 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 280
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 382-7600, ext. 247 (w)
(213) 841-4503 (c)
twarnke@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal: Making the case for equality

Viloria & others quoted in Washington Post Intersex Rights article

Viloria & others quoted in Washington Post Intersex Rights article

Our E.D. Hida Viloria and other members of the intersex community are quoted in the article, “The Intersex Rights Movement Is Ready for its Moment,” in today’s Washington Post, which also features beautiful picture of many young community members, which we feel is wonderful for bringing a humanizing lens to the intersex community and our… Continue Reading

Assoc Dir Zzyym Speaks Out About Their Landmark Non-binary Lawsuit on ABC News!

Assoc Dir Zzyym Speaks Out About Their Landmark Non-binary Lawsuit on ABC News!

    Intersex Campaign for Equality’s Dana Zzyym is interviewed on ABC News regarding their landmark lawsuit against the U.S. State Department for a passport with a non-binary gender designation. Go Dana! We are proud to have assisted in this case, and to call Dana our Associate Director. We are also deeply grateful to them,… Continue Reading

Fight for Non-Binary Passport Continues!

Fight for Non-Binary Passport Continues!

    As reported in a press release yesterday, Lambda Legal has filed a motion to reopen the case of Dana Zzyym, our Associate Director, for non-binary gender recognition on their passport. Zzyym, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them/theirs pronouns, is the first non-binary American to sue for the right to accurate federal gender… Continue Reading

Oregon becomes first state to offer non-binary driver’s licenses!

Oregon becomes first state to offer non-binary driver’s licenses!

As reported in Time, Oregon has become the first state to offer a non-binary gender option on driver’s licenses. Effective July 1st, residents will be able to select an “X”, representing “not specified”, instead of an M or F as their gender—with no doctor’s verification needed! According to reports, those speaking in favor of adding… Continue Reading

Intersex Memoir Praised in The New York Times, Washington Post & More!

Intersex Memoir Praised in The New York Times, Washington Post & More!

  “[A] poignant and powerful story.” – The Washington Post “Viloria does us the even greater service (it’s more of a gift, really) of showing us what it means to live not just as both a man and a woman but also as a third gender that eventually emerges as the right one.” — The… Continue Reading

E.D. Hida Viloria quoted in People Magazine

E.D. Hida Viloria quoted in People Magazine

Today, People Magazine quotes our founding director Hida Viloria about the recent historic development in NYC! Last week we shared the great news that NYC had issued a groundbreaking intersex birth certificate—to the fantastic Sara Kelly Keenan, who is also the first non-binary Californian— and we are grateful for all the media coverage which has… Continue Reading

NBCNews.com covers NYC’s Intersex Birth Certificate & Zzyym’s Passport Lawsuit

NBCNews.com covers NYC’s Intersex Birth Certificate & Zzyym’s Passport Lawsuit

Great piece in NBCNews.com of the recent issuing of Sara Kelly Keenan’s “intersex” birth certificate, featuring coverage of our own Dana Zzyym’s historic passport lawsuit for non binary intersex gender recognition, and Jamie Shupe’s non binary gender recognition in Oregon. “Not all intersex people will choose to identify legally as intersex,” Keenan told NBC Out,… Continue Reading

Victory for Intersex Plaintiff Dana Zzyym & All Non-Binary People!

Victory for Intersex Plaintiff Dana Zzyym & All Non-Binary People!

Earlier today, Lambda Legal–who are representing our Associate Director Dana Zzyym in their historic U.S. lawsuit for accurate gender recognition on their passport–issued an update in the case titled, “Victory for Intersex Plaintiff”. From the press release: “Lambda Legal is urging the State Department to issue accurate passports for non-binary people! This comes after a… Continue Reading

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