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US airlines plan to add gender options for non-binary passengers

(NEW YORK ) — Major airlines will soon offer passengers who don’t identify as “male” or “female” more options when booking tickets to travel.

The announcement came after an industry trade group, Airlines for America (A4A), and International Air Transport Association members recently approved a new standard to account for non-binary IDs.

“U.S. airlines value a culture of diversity and inclusion, both in the workplace and for our passengers, and we work hard each day to accommodate the needs of all travelers while delivering a safe, secure and enjoyable flight experience,” Airline for America spokesperson Vaughn Jennings said.

Passengers flying with airline giants such as United, American and Southwest have announced that they will be making changes to their online booking process to reflect the standard. United Airlines stated that “in the coming weeks their passengers will be able to identify themselves, as M(ale), F(emale), U(undisclosed), or X(unspecified,” and that”, customers who do not identify with a gender will have the option of selecting “Mx.” as a title.”

Delta Airlines was already undergoing a similar process on its own.

“As part of our commitment to inclusion, we want to ensure all of our customers feel comfortable and welcome no matter how they self-identify, which is why we will begin offering our customers the ability to select the gender with which they most closely identify during the booking process,” United Airlines released in a statement.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began requiring passengers to enter their gender and date of birth when booking flights in 2009. This requirement was a direct result of 9/11 when TSA created the Secure Flight vetting program, which is a behind the scenes watch list matching process that happens before passengers arrive at the airport.

“By providing the additional data elements of gender and date of birth, Secure Flight will more effectively help prevent misidentification of passengers who have similar names to individuals on a watch list and better identify individuals that may pose a threat to aviation,” TSA stated in a press release.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) has expressed concerns for what they call “intrusive security screening procedures” by TSA. NCTE State Policy Director Arli Christian, who goes by the pronoun “they”, applauds these new gender options.

“Non-binary people face unnecessary, invasive, and discriminatory scrutiny by airlines, airports, and security services alike,” Arli Christian said. “A4A’s work is in line with other states who offer gender-neutral designations on IDs and is an important step toward ensuring safe and smooth travel for all passengers regardless of their gender.”

These new options for travels will begin on June 1, however, according to International Air Transport Association spokesperson Perry Flint that the decision of when or if to apply the new standard up to individual airlines.

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