By David Alire Garcia
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexicans applying for a passport can now avoid having to check the box for male or female in a new travel document policy announced on Wednesday and hailed by the country's top diplomat as historic progress for those who identify as non-binary.
The new non-binary passport was unveiled at an event hosted by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, but it came under immediate criticism by some non-binary activists as confusing gender with sex.
Under the new passport policy, non-binary Mexicans who do not identify as either a man or a woman, which are gender categories, can now respond with an "X" on paperwork that asks applicants to choose between male or female, which are biological sex categories.
"People applying will be able to choose the marker "X" for the box designating sex on their passport, and in that way they omit the need to specify gender," the foreign ministry explained in a statement announcing the new policy.
Mexican passports did not previously ask applicants to select gender, only sex.
Ebrard, who is seeking the presidential nomination of the leftist Morena party for next year's election, touted the policy as "a quantum leap" for Mexico.
But non-binary Mexican activist Alex Orue argued that Ebrard mostly flubbed the attempt at progressive inclusion by blurring the difference between gender and sex.
"It's counterproductive because it confuses the concepts and reinforces a stigma against our community," said Orue, deputy director of global programming for LGBTQ+ rights non-profit It Gets Better.
Orue questioned whether those who identify as non-binary were consulted on the new policy, adding it would be better to give applicants on official identification documents the option to select "NB" on a question specifying gender.
"It could seem like a minor detail, but it's stigmatizing for non-binary people and it becomes a matter of inspection of genitalia," added Orue, since gender identities do not always match bodily attributes of biological sex.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Michael Perry)