The Un-United States of America

Secretary of State; Antony Blinken just announced, starting immediately, one can choose to identify as either M (male) or F (female) without needing to provide any proof of medical certification. Which is good. I think.  The State Department further announced that at some time in the future, the option of a third or “X” gender will be instituted. That’s great. I think.

This is not actually “new” in the weird, international world of passports. At least 8 countries have already instituted the “X” box including; Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Nepal, and New Zealand. Interesting mix right?

Joe Biden came into his presidency on the usual platform of pretty, political promises. His administration has since quietly dropped the ball on several vital issues including; comprehensive relief for student debt, climate change, law reforms, and immigration.

On February 26th, 2021 the House again voted to pass the “Equality Act”. It was a close call coming in at 224 votes For, and 206, Against. It remains to be seen if it collects the votes to pass through the Senate. The previous legislation, passed by the House in 2019 (pre-Biden) was blocked by a Republican-led Senate. The usual political shenanigans ensued. Marie Newman (Illinois-Dem) raised a transgender flag at her office. Marjorie Taylor Green (Georgia-Rep, QAnon) responded via her “right” of free speech with a poster in her office stating “There are Two genders, Male and Female-Trust the science”.

I can only note here, that it would be great if our politicians at some point in time would all graduate from the kindergarten sandbox.  The world has no more time left to waste on this level of stupidity.

The Equality Act promises to protect LGBT communities from discrimination, support LGBT youth, expand health access, ensure “fair treatment” in the criminal justice systems and collect data necessary to support the LGBT+ communities. This all sounds like a promised trip to the candy store.  It can look really sweet until we bite into it.

In the usual faffing way politicians seek to boost their popularity statistics, the Equality Act makes for great headlines.

As a journalist vs a “like” gathering social media marketer, I observe a few basic problems here. Breaking this down, simply regarding passports, to two major and obvious issues: (1) restricted travel and, (2) targeted travellers. Unless you choose to travel to a few limited countries, an “X” may actually garner a refusal of entry to many others. Further, that much-lauded “X” can be used to target LGBT people. Data collection can veer off into the very grey area of data privacy.  In the usual faffing way politicians seek to boost their popularity statistics, the Equality Act makes for great headlines. The State Department has noted it will “take some time” to actually create the third gender option on US passports. We are left with that  “carrot on a stick”  version of hope so popularly wielded in politics.

For Dana Zzyym, a military veteran,  who has been fighting for additional gender passport markers prior to his 2015 lawsuit, ZZyym v Pompeo, this latest decision does, however, come as a victory. What is lacking, as usual, is how the hell it will actually get done and, when?

US Presidents barely last four years. Two of those are wasted in trying to get re-elected.  In general, politicians carefully avoid specifics in any of their promises. It’s a “Cover Your Ass” policy providing for multiple escape options during later questioning. This current “great news” comes attached with some vital implementation questions.  To get a passport, one requires a birth certificate. Currently, 11 states will issue “undesignated/nonbinary” gender options on birth certificates. That leaves 39 States that do not.

Which brings us to another Biden promise with little hope of fulfilment, to “reform the court system because it’s getting out of whack.” Understatement of the year.

We have Trump to thank for one thing. Ripping off the band-aids of American pretence and illustrating clearly the infected social ooze below.  Constitutional debates aside, US law was created under a three-tiered system. County, State, and Federal.  Final battles were fought in the Supreme Court, which then created, (Art VI, Clause 2) Law of the Land. Also known as the “Supremacy Clause” of the Constitution. Simplified, it is the authority that includes statute and case-made laws and takes priority over conflicting state laws. The glue that generally kept our mess together.

2020 will be forever historical in noting the official beginning of the global Covid-19 pandemic. In the US, it ravaged death across 50 states clarifying not only the actual disfunction of both state and federal governments but of a clearly broken political and legal system.

We no longer have systematic, enforceable laws. The law is and should be, a living and evolving entity.  It requires deft flexibility to account for changing social awareness and emerging philosophies.

However, to maintain a legitimate legal system, we must have appropriate, judicial enforceability. In the US, our legal system is broken. Counties disavow State laws, States reject Federal laws and our Supreme Court is biased.

Some social media may applaud current administrational directives, but the stark truth remains. If the umbrella of Federal law no longer covers this country, how will any Acts passed be implemented? When will any of this become actual “Law of the Land”? And finally, how will violations of law be enforced? Hard questions that require specific answers.

Zzyym states; “It’s great news for all intersex and nonbinary people because it basically says that we can get our passports, ..we can just be ourselves.” An “X” gender passport may be the gateway to future freedoms, but for now, it simply creates immediate and concerning new questions.

We are the  Un-United States of America in thought, heart and, law. How then can we truly “be ourselves” when our legal geography cannot protect or agree on a definition of who or what, we are?


Karin vonKrenner
Karin vonKrenner
Karin vonKrenner is a journalist and photographer. She has worked globally for over 20 years, in times of peace and conflict. Karin directs her pen and lens to document the contrasting narratives of the human experience. Her work invites you to engage the world from new perspectives.

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  1. This is one of many issues that this country is facing and because there is no “black and white” stance, very difficult to fix. How? I don’t know. I don’t get to figure it out because of the lack of options. Many of these issues are not just US issues either; they belong to the World. Which leads us into thinking a World government but seeing what is happening in Europe makes it hard to feel that would work. Maybe the Earth does need to shake off its fleas that are us, humankind.

  2. Interesting article, Karin. Yeah: “I can only note here, that it would be great if our politicians at some point in time would all graduate from the kindergarten sandbox. The world has no more time left to waste on this level of stupidity.” Adulthood has apparently left the building….the country.

    The questions I’m left with are, from your perspective, why is the current administration falling short on their promises and what should/could they do differently to make some progress? It feels to me like the lack of progress isn’t for lack of trying….

    • Hi Carol, thanks for your comments, always appreciate hearing from my readers. Re your question, current administration is seeking to pass an ‘infrastructure’ that is so “behind the times” as to be pointless. Climate change directives are not included and we continue to ignore this vital issue. The Equality Act is, as noted, not a new bill. It’s dates pre-Biden and chances of passing are slim, again. But, it’s good for headline social media distraction. Current administration is not dealing with employment, student debt or, “fixing” a very broken legal system. I simply don’t see any vital progress made on pressing issues by politicians who cannot comprehend the concept of “we have no more time” for squabbles and kindergarten tactics. The world is in crisis, now.