American Airlines is set to add gender-neutral options to recognize the identities of trans, intersex, and nonbinary passengers.
When customers buy a ticket through the popular airline, they will soon be able to choose two additional options aside from the traditional male and female: “U” (meaning unspecified) and “X” (an increasingly common marker for those who identify outside the gender binary). According to the Movement Advancement Project, at least 13 states allow trans, intersex, and nonbinary people to list a gender other than “M” or “F” on their driver’s license or state ID.
According to the Dallas Morning News, those who wish to request a “U” or “X” on their flight reservation must call customer service after purchasing a ticket. Currently, the American Airlines website still forces prospective passengers to choose either “male” or “female.”
However, the airline claims its working on an update to the website to prevent customers from being compelled to temporarily misgender themselves.
“We recently completed system updates in an ongoing effort to offer nonbinary gender selections,” spokeswoman Stacy Day told Dallas Morning News. “Taking care of our customers and team members is what we do, and we are glad to be able to better accommodate the gender preferences of our travelers and team members.”
United Airlines already has similar policies in place, while Southwest Airlines claims it is currently looking into implementing more gender choices for trans, intersex, and nonbinary people.
“Please know that while we don't have a time frame to share, Southwest is currently investigating solutions and the technical requirements needed to provide our customers nonbinary gender marker options during the booking process,” Ro Hawthorne, a spokesperson for Southwest, claimed in a statement.
Even when these changes are officially implemented, trans, intersex, and nonbinary people will still face difficulties when traveling in the United States. For instance, American Airlines urges individuals to book their flights using whatever gender marker is listed on their driver’s license or ID. Thus, customers who live in the 37 states which do not have gender-neutral markers on identification could face greater scrutiny at the airport if they choose “X” or “U.”
Meanwhile, a ProPublica investigation from earlier this year found that trans, intersex, and nonbinary people are disproportionately targeted at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoints, as the body scanner technology is not designed to recognize bodies which don’t fit into standard definitions of “male” and “female.”