Ellison Joins Amicus Brief in Support of Non-Binary Colorado Resident Who Had Passport Denied


Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday that he has joined a “coalition of attorneys general” in defending the “rights of gender non-binary individuals.”

According to a press release from Ellison’s office, he is joined in the amicus brief by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

The case, Zzyym v. Pompeo, centers around Colorado resident Dana Zzyym, who applied for a passport that would “reflect an undisputed fact—that Zzyym was born intersex and is neither male nor female.”

“The U.S. Department of State denied the application for the sole reason that Zzyym did not designate ‘M’ or ‘F’ in the field asking for the applicant’s gender and instead identified as ‘intersex.’ Although the Department stated that it would provide a passport listing Zzyym’s gender as ‘M’ or ‘F,’ the Department refused to provide a passport with an ‘X,’ the marker recognized internationally for individuals whose gender is neither male nor female,” the amicus brief explains.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado found in a September 2018 ruling that the U.S. Department of State’s gender policy was “arbitrary and capricious and that the passport application denial was in excess of the Department’s statutory authority,” Ellison’s office said.

The federal government, however, appealed the decision and the case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, where Ellison and his colleagues filed their amicus brief in support of Zzyym.

“For the amici states, adding non-binary gender designation in accord with national and international standards has required negligible administrative effort—the kind that accompanies routine changes to government documents,” the brief states.

Ellison explained his interest in the case by saying that “the right to have your government accurately name and acknowledge your gender identity, and not arbitrarily deny it, is fundamental to living with dignity and respect.”

“That’s why I filed a brief with 8 other AGs today to support a nonbinary person who just wants a passport that reflects their gender identity,” he later said on Twitter.

The full brief can be accessed here.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].





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