By Kelly Werthmann

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– The United States has issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation. It belongs to Dana Zzyym of Fort Collins, who opened the envelope containing their new passport Wednesday morning.

(credit: CBS)

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“It was a ‘Wow! Holy shh…’ moment,” Dana said with a laugh.

Dana’s joy over their new passport is obvious, but that’s not all they’re feeling.

“It’s a whole mix of other emotions,” Dana told CB4’s Kelly Werthmann.

After all, they’ve fought years for this moment.

“I was feeling exhausted, literally exhausted,” they said.

(credit: CBS)

Dana is an intersex person, meaning they were born with reproductive anatomy and chromosomes that are not strictly male or female. Since 2015, Dana has been in a legal battle trying to get the State Department to issue passports for people who don’t identify as male or female.

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“This fight was not about me. I didn’t do this for me,” they said. “I have been through my hell with going through intersex genital mutilation, which is where they cut me and medicalized me to what somebody else thought I should look like. They put me in pain – physically, mentally, emotionally – for the rest of my life. This is what happens to most intersex kids. This is why I filed for my passport, to get legal recognition for intersex people.”

According to the Human Rights Campaign, more than 5 million Americans are born intersex. Dana said having a legal, federal document reflecting that truth is a victory now and for generations to come.

“With the legal distinction that we are intersex, they can’t and shouldn’t force us to live any other way than who we are,” Dana said.

And, as a military veteran, Dana said this new designation on a passport has even greater meaning.

“This strengthens the sense of freedom in America,” they said. “Truly, because it makes Americans more free.”

The fight for that freedom and civil rights for intersex persons does not stop here, Dana said. And as they held their new passport, reflecting on how they’re the first U.S. citizen to be issued one with a gender X designation, Dana is filled with renewed hope and pride.

(credit: CBS)

“I know I worked toward this, and it’s a great thing,” they said.

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The U.S. Passport agency expects the gender X option to be offered more broadly next year. With Wednesday’s announcement, the United States joins at least a dozen other countries issuing passports with gender markers other than male and female.

Kelly Werthmann