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In a huge move toward inclusion, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced a third gender option on Form N-400 – the application to become a naturalized U.S citizen. Historically, the form only provided applicants with traditional binary gender options of “Male (M)” or “Female (F)”. Applicants now have the option of selecting “X” as their gender identity (which represents “another gender identity”) if they do not identify with either Male or Female. The 04/01/2024 edition of the form is the first USCIS form to include this X third gender option. Applicants who have already submitted their Form N-400 may request a revision. According to the announcement from USCIS:

“Historically, USCIS forms and associated documents have only offered two gender options: ‘Male (M)’ and ‘Female (F).’ This has created significant barriers for requestors who do not identify with either of those options. Limiting benefit requestors to two gender options also creates administrative challenges for USCIS when we receive birth certificates or other official government-issued documents with a gender other than M or F. Adding a third gender option helps ensure that secure identity documents and biographical data are accurate and helps both external stakeholders and individuals requesting immigration benefits. It is also consistent with federal and state agencies that have adopted a third gender option, such as the U.S. Department of State’s expanded passport services to offer gender X in their application.”

In conjunction with the form change, USCIS also updated guidance in its Policy Manual. Adjusting governmental documents to reflect gender beyond the traditional male and female binary genders is a huge step in the right direction. Government agencies are aligning their processes and documents to reflect the needs of constituents and – although it can feel slow – all positive progress is welcome. Granted, the bucket of “X” to capture everyone that doesn’t fall into the Male or Female bucket still falls short of acknowledging the spectrum of genders applicants may identify with. Perhaps we will soon see this expand to other agencies and corners of the government.

This action may require changes in companies to accurately reflect governmental data on new citizens. This is a good time to ensure that your workplace systems are robust enough to accommodate the third gender option (at a minimum). In addition, if your company hasn’t reviewed your website, intranet, surveys, and documents for gender-inclusive language and sufficient options for gender self-selection, this could be a spark you need to ensure policies and practices are aligned with your inclusive intentions. 

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The Editor

Ngozi Okeh is an experienced leader with a history of driving efforts to conceptualize, define, assess and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as strategic business processes. Ngozi is currently the Director of DEI at a leading marketing technology company where she develops and executes enterprise-wide DEI initiatives through rigorous strategic planning efforts, community partnerships, leadership collaboration, strategy evaluation, and careful management of communication and buy-in as well as policies and procedures.  Previously, she worked at an independent mortgage bank, where… View Profile