On Thursday, Canada became the first North American country to offer a third gender option on passports to individuals who do not identify as either male or female.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told Canadian state news organizations that the move is part of a government-wide effort to make all documents gender neutral, to allow Canadians to “express their gender as they choose.”
If a Canadian citizen applying for a passport doesn’t identify as either male or female, or fits somewhere other than within the widely accepted gender binary, that person will now mark a separate box on their application. Their passport, when issued, will read “X” on the “gender” line, rather than “M” or “F.”
It will take a few weeks to get the forms rolled out, immigration ministers said, so if you’re just itching to get your gender-neutral passport, it could take a little while.
Non-gender binary individuals might also find their situation complicated by provincial rules that aren’t quite as progressive as Canada’s federal ones. Even though passports may have the “X” gender, most Canadian provinces still don’t recognize a third gender option. So far only Ontario allows the third gender option on their drivers licenses, and only the sparsely populated Northwest Territories allow you to select a third option on a birth certificate, if you don’t want to saddle your newborn with the trappings of either of the two basic genders.
It’s also possible that the new passports will create confusion among countries that aren’t as “woke” as Canada; few other nations allow for gender fluidity among their visa-seekers.