US allows migrants to pick their gender

The Department of Homeland Security will no longer require any papers to match the self-identified gender

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services marked the Transgender Day of Visibility with an announcement that will begin accepting “self-identified gender markers” from foreign individuals who seek legal immigration services and benefits, without requesting any supporting documents.

While the only two options on existing forms are still “male” and “female,” the Homeland Security’s legal immigration branch will now allow applicants to select and change their preferred gender at will, according to a policy update alert issued on March 31.

The policy change, effective immediately, states that “benefit requestors may self-select their gender marker (in an initial filing or a subsequent change to a prior gender selection), without the need to provide supporting documentation or to match the gender listed on their identity documents.”

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President Joe Biden officially proclaimed March 31 as a Transgender Day of Visibility back in 2021, as part of his wider push for equity and inclusivity. In his 2023 proclamation, Biden stated that “Transgender Americans shape our Nation’s soul.”

The immigration agency said it removed the documentation requirement in line with “priorities” set by Biden’s executive orders on advancing LGBTQI equality, combating discrimination, and “restoring faith” in American legal immigration systems.

USCIS argued that the requirement to submit proof of gender identity had created extra barriers and delays to travel and employment, and abolishing it will help prevent “discrimination and harassment due to inconsistent identity documents.” 

READ MORE: US to issue gender-neutral passports

Last year, the US State Department began offering an ‘X’ gender option on passports which stands for those with “unspecified or another gender identity,” without the need to provide any medical documentation to prove that they are neither male nor female.

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