Starting July 21, 2021, Argentina’s National Identity Document and passports now include a third gender category, “X,” allowing people to choose to be designated other than female or male. The move makes Argentina the first country in Latin America to establish such a category.
The change comes per a decree by President Alberto Fernández, which states that “X” will be used to denote the following meanings: “non-binary, undetermined, unspecified, undefined, not informed, self-perceived, not recorded; or another meaning with which the person who does not feel included in the masculine/feminine binary could identify.”
Both citizens and non-national residents may access the designation for their documents via a simple administrative procedure.
Among the first to receive a non-binary identification document was Gerónimo Carolina González Devesa, a 34-year-old doctor, who explained what it means to have their non-binary identity recognized: “Leaving this binary [system] implies being able to start working in a world in which all people can enter and that effectively respects all identities. And it’s wonderful, the realization that this change is finally coming.”
A dozen other countries, such as the United States, Malta, and Nepal, already allow for non-binary passports. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations agency that sets global regulations for machine-readable passports, allows for three sex categories: female, male, or “X” for unspecified. Some countries, such as the Netherlands, are planning on scrapping gender from identity documents altogether.
With this move, Argentina continues to lead the way in the region when it comes to the legal recognition of gender identity. In 2012, the country passed a Gender Identity Law that allows anyone to change the gender and name on their identity card and birth certificate through a simple administrative procedure.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Argentina has ratified, protects the rights to recognition before the law, privacy, and nondiscrimination. To fully respect these rights, states should not only allow people to change from “F” to “M” and vice versa; they should also provide them with an “X” or equivalent option.
Countries in the region should join Argentina in recognizing the gender identities of their trans and non-binary citizens. Not only is it required by international law, but it will also go a long way to fostering equality, tolerance, and inclusion for all.
This post was originally published on Human Rights Watch News.