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Argentina rolls out gender-neutral ID

Argentine President Alberto Fernández, center, with other authorities and members of social organizations, form an X at the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires on July 21. Argentina allows nonbinary people, who do not recognize themselves as female or male, to identify themselves on their National Identity Document and passports with an X. (Maria Eugenia Cerutti/Argentine Presidency Handout/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Argentina is allowing residents to identify as nonbinary on the country’s new national ID card.

Officials including the president and minister of women, gender and diversity handed out the first three copies of the new document this month. For the first time, the options in the gender field include “male,” “female” and “X.”

The card is intended to give people who do not identify as male or female a form of official documentation that better matches their identity. Argentina is the first country in the region to offer such an option, according to Reuters. It’s also available in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and elsewhere.

“There are other identities besides that of a man and a woman, and they should be respected — and they’ve always existed,” President Alberto Fernández said at a July 21 news conference. “I hope one day we get to the point where IDs don’t say if someone is a man, woman or anything else.”

The president retweeted a remark calling the policy “incredibly liberal.”

The announcement came as a “half surprise,” according to a statement from Zona FALGBT, an Argentine group of LGBTQ activists. Activists had been pushing for nonbinary recognition for years, but this decree came “without much notice,” according to the statement. “It was a very moving moment for our LGBT+ community.”

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“I feel legal,” Gerónimo Carolina González Devesa, a 35-year-old doctor, told Página 12, an Argentine newspaper, after receiving an identification with the “X.” González Devesa three years ago began a successful process to renew their birth certificate without “F” or “M” in the “Sex” field — becoming the first person in the nation to receive a nonbinary birth certificate, and now the first person to receive a nonbinary ID.

Shanik Lucián Sosa Battisti, who also received a new ID, told the Argentine outlet: “Until now, when they asked me for my ID, I had to say that I did not have it, that I was waiting. … That was horrible, but today it was over.”

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Some advocates said the new IDs do not go far enough. A handful of participants in the rollout event, including one of the three ID recipients, took up the call “We are not X,” pushing for an option for the ID field to be left blank along with more sweeping measures to foster inclusion of those with nonbinary gender identities.

Fernández is known for pushing liberal social measures, including siding with a bill that would legalize and guarantee free access to abortion for up to 14 weeks of pregnancy and advocating for a coronavirus wealth tax bill. Fernández has supported his son — a popular drag queen who goes by “Dyhzy” — against conservative attacks.

Argentina passed a law recognizing same-sex marriage in 2010. Then it legally allowed gender identity change two years later with the Gender Identity Law. Argentina also passed a 1 percent quota of public-sector jobs to go to transgender people.

President Biden’s campaign platform said he believes every transgender or nonbinary person should have the option of changing their government identification’s gender marker to “M,” “F” or “X.” Currently, in the United States, people can select the gender “M” or “F” for their passport, even if the gender does not match supporting documents such as birth certificates.

Australia has an “X” option for passports but warns that those who select it might encounter trouble at international borders.