DENVER — The battle to get a passport that accurately represents a Fort Collins veteran began in 2014 and continued Tuesday morning with another federal hearing to petition the U.S. State Department for a box other than male or female on the passport application.
Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on behalf of Dana Zzyym, who was denied a passport when the 60-year-old refused to identify as male or female, and wrote "intersex" instead.
Born with ambiguous genitalia, Zzyym uses the pronouns they, them, and theirs.
The new lawsuit alleges the State Department is violating Zzyym's 5th amendment rights.
"I deserve to be able to travel under who I really am," said Zzyym outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Denver.
This is not the first lawsuit to try to change the country's policy on passports.
Two years ago, a federal judge ruled the State Department should reconsider their denial of Zzyym's application, but they came back with another denial.
In a letter sent to Lambda Legal on May 1, 2017, the Department wrote they are "unaware of generally accepted medical standards for diagnosing and evaluating a transition to any sex other than male or female."
"We're talking about infringing on an American citizen's right," said Paul Castillo, senior attorney with Lambda Legal. "Somebody who has served our country, their right to exit the United States."
Zzyym, an associate director for Intersex Campaign for Equality, wants to travel abroad for pleasure and as an advocate for others who identify as intersex, but they don't want to lie on their passport.
“For a long time, I didn't know I could be myself," said Zzyym. "I was too much under the influence of what other people told me I had to be."
The Navy veteran grew up as a boy, tried to fit in as an adult woman, and eventually realized they didn't fit either male or female. They say they attempted suicide several times before now.
“I’m doing the right thing, I’m doing it for me, and now I’m also doing it for a lot of other people," said Zzyym.
Since Zzyym and their attorneys started their fight, several states have added a third gender marker to state IDs. Some countries, including Canada and Pakistan, have an X on passports to symbolize a third sex.
A spokesperson for the State Department told 9NEWS they cannot comment on pending litigation.
Zzyym's attorneys tell 9NEWS that while this is a specific case focused on passports, the final ruling could persuade judges in future, related lawsuits.