The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday announced that it was making a number of changes to its technology and processes in order to “advance equality for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming Americans.”
The biggest change is in the way DHS allows Americans to apply for passports and TSA PreCheck—starting on April 11, TSA will update its programs to include an “X” gender marker option on its applications for both passports and for the TSA PreCheck program.
The DHS and the State Department had been allowing Americans to select their gender on applications without having to submit medical documentation since June, but the announcement this week means that U.S. citizens will be able to select “X” as their gender market on new passport applications for Americans that identify as nonbinary, intersex, or gender-nonconforming.
At the same time, the TSA will update its scanners with new technology that it says “increases security and efficiency by reducing false alarm rates and pat-downs for the traveling public.”
“By replacing the current, gender-based AIT system, this new, more accurate technology will also advance civil rights and improve the customer experience of travelers who previously have been required to undergo additional screening due to alarms in sensitive areas. TSA will begin deploying this new technology in airports throughout the country later this year,” the announcement reads.
There’s more, too—TSA also plans to update procedures to allow for “less invasive screening for certain passengers who trigger the AIT scanner in a sensitive area. While the TSA didn’t provide a large number of specifics about this change, it promises the new procedures will reduce pat-downs without compromising security until the new AIT system is deployed.
“DHS is committed to protecting the traveling public while ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender identity, is treated with respect,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
“The new measures announced today are part of a whole-of-government effort to promote equity and inclusion in all our programs and processes. We are proud to work with our interagency partners on this effort and look forward to rapidly implementing these changes to better serve the American public.”