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19 Oct, 2018 15:26

Gender X: Netherlands issues its first gender-neutral passport after govt loses court battle

Gender X: Netherlands issues its first gender-neutral passport after govt loses court battle

The Netherlands has issued its first gender-neutral passport after an ‘intersex’ Dutch-person successfully argued that prohibiting citizens from registering as gender neutral amounted to a violation of “self-determination.”

Leonne Zeegers, 57, received a passport that identifies her gender as ‘X’, after winning a lawsuit against the government. The Dutch court sided with Zeegers, who claimed that prohibiting a gender neutral option for Dutch passport holders would constitute a “violation of private life, self-determination and personal autonomy.”

Zeegers says that she was born intersex, but was raised as a boy. In 2001, she had surgery to become a female.

However, the ruling does not mean that any gender-fluid Dutch citizen can receive the ‘X’ gender distinction. Courts will decide whether the designation is appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

The move received mixed reviews on social media.

“Great step forward. #TheNetherlands has always been a progressive country. Hope the citizens don’t land into a soup while visiting other countries that aren’t there yet on #genderequality,” Twitter user Indrajeet Sengupta wrote.

“This is cool, but I'd be cautious which countries you visit with such a passport,” another netizen commented, echoing a similar concern about how well the gender-neutral X would be received by foreign passport control officers.

READ MORE: 40 schools in England ban girls from wearing skirts to accommodate transgender students

Others inquired about logistical issues associated with such a distinction.

“Out of genuine curiosity, who would conduct intimate searches should one be required? Say at a police station or airport?” asked Twitter user Mick Jackson. Others appeared to be less supportive of the decision.

“We are looking for a gender neutral suspect, neutral age with neutral color skin,” a netizen joked, perhaps mimicking a future INTERPOL search notice.

“GENDER BAD,” a tongue-in-cheek Twitter comment declared.

Another said: “I’ll still assume your gender.”

The Dutch haven’t ventured into uncharted, gender-ambiguous territory, however. Countries that already allow a third gender option include Canada, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, India, Ireland and Nepal. The ‘X’ distinction is also approved by the ICAO, the UN agency that regulates international air travel.

In June an activist challenged the UK’s passport rules – but the bid for an “X” category was shot down by the courts.

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