Mexico has issued its first passports with an X gender marker, joining a list of 16 countries that now offer gender-neutral national documentation. Olivia Palamountain reports

Mexico’s non-binary community will now be able to make their identity clear on national documents, thanks to the country’s updated passports.

Unveiled on 17 May, 2023, to chime with the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the passports now feature an X gender option alongside the make and female markers.

The move means that the Latin American country joins a list of 16 countries around the world that offer gender-neutral passports. These include Argentina, Austria, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

As reported on Mexico’s government website, Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard addressed the crowd at the new passport inauguration ceremony to say that the action was “a great quantum leap” for Mexico.

“Important changes always begin as cultural changes”, he continued. “Today’s ceremony is going to change our culture and, therefore, our daily lives. What we are doing has to do with a community that has the right to identity.”

Part of the Mexican Foreign Ministry’s drive to offer more inclusive services, speaking at the historic event on May 17, Director General of Consular Services Jaime Vázquez Bracho Torres said that all authorities are obligated to protect and ensure the human right to identity.

“In 2022, when we issued the first birth certificates at our consulates, the Foreign Secretary promised to work on issuing non-binary documents… Today, we have the honor of seeing the Foreign Secretary deliver the first non-binary passport.”

Mexican national, Ociel Baena, who was issued a non-binary birth certificate, was invited by the Secretary to be the first person to be issued a non-binary passport in the nation.

Not all countries that have adopted non-binary passports remain satisfied with the scheme, with the Netherlands currently moving to remove gender markers from national identification documents altogether, says Newsweek.

Having issued its first gender-neutral passport in 2018, the Dutch government is experimenting with no longer including any gender markers at all, in the hope of preventing potential harms inflicted upon non-binary or trans people.

The UK government, meanwhile, is opposed to issuing “non-gender-specific” passports. At the moment non-binary genders are not recognised in UK law. The Gender Recognition Act 2004 (GRA) enables a person to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate, either from male to female or vice versa. It makes no provision for the recognition of any other gender.