Lambda Legal calls on court to affirm ruling for non-binary veteran seeking passport

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Dana Zzyym

Dana Zzyym (Photo courtesy of Lambda Legal)

Dana Zzyym (Photo courtesy of Lambda Legal)

DENVER — Lambda Legal filed a brief in the U.S. Appeals Court for the Tenth District to uphold a lower court’s ruling for the U.S. State Department to issue an accurate passport to a non-binary veteran.

Dana Zzyym, a U.S. Navy veteran who is intersex and nonbinary and does not identify as male or female, was denied a pass port because they couldn’t accurately choose male or female on the passport application. The form didn’t provide any other options. Lambda Legal said in a press release that Zzyym was one of the first Colorado residents to get a driver’s license with a gender neutral marker.

“It makes no sense that the State Department would insist that a passport applicant be untruthful, much less deny a vital travel and identity document solely based on an applicant’s gender,” Lambda Legal Counsel Paul Castillo said. “Dana has lost countless personal and professional opportunities over the past four years because the agency wants to force them to carry and present false identity documents. No law-abiding citizen should be blocked from leaving the country just because of who they are.”

The brief argues the that lower court correctly decided that the State department had exceeded its authority when it denied Zzyym’s application based solely on personal characteristics and, separately, the agency did not adequately engage in reasoned decisionmaking, especially since several states currently allow for gender neutral markers.

“It’s absurd that the State Department would rather me just randomly check a box: male or female.  It’s not who I am, and it would expose me to greater scrutiny when my Colorado driver’s license now shows ‘X’” said Zzyym. “I’m not going to lie on my passport application, and I shouldn’t have to.”

Read more about the lawsuit, Zzyym v. Pompeo, here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/co_zzyym-v-pompeo. Read the Tenth Circuit brief here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/zzyym_co_20190509_-response-brief-of-appellee

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