Dawn Henry of Arizona is fighting for her nonbinary adult child to fly with Delta Air Lines after their discriminatory policy made it impossible.
Henry (@truth_trumps) shared the “ongoing saga” on Twitter of trying to buy a plane ticket for her child as a Christmas gift. She called out Delta for only allowing male and female markers and not the gender neutral "X" marker.
Gender neutral markers are federally recognized and legally changeable in several U.S. states for drivers license and birth certificates.
Henry tweeted her complaint and tagged Delta:
"@Delta is discriminating against #nonbinary individuals and not allowing them to fly despite legal ID issued by states that allow X on birth certificates and state-issued IDs."
"This thread is the ongoing saga of me trying to purchase a ticket for my non-binary adult child."
Since the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires all state-issued IDs and reservations match, the inability to accept X markers makes it impossible for Henry's child to fly with Delta.
Back in 2019, major airlines—including American, United, Southwest, Alaska, and JetBlue—were said to be in the process of updating their booking tools allowing nonbinary gender markers as an option.
Delta was even confirmed by NBC News to be among those major airlines, yet that change still hasn't come.
Three years later, Henry is on the phone with Delta to see what can be done.
The representative said they were “unable to change the gender designation to X."
“The Delta rep was determined to help, but after over 30 minutes on hold, she told me ‘they’ said it doesn’t matter what the ID says, use what’s on the birth certificate."
“I explained that the birth certificate also says X.”
Henry was put on hold again, only to be met with the supervisor's answer of:
"[The system] uses male/female and I can only use one of those."
Henry tried to explain her child is non-binary and the TSA requirements must have the "X" marker on their ticket.
She described the supervisors response as "short" and their answer as "That's the policy."
"I said, are you telling me you aren’t allowing my non-binary LGBTQ kid who has a perfectly legal state-issued ID to fly?”
‘She said ‘no, I’m not saying that, it’s just the policy at Delta’.”
“I pointed out it has that effect if TSA requires matching documents and there’s no way to buy a ticket with a gender that matches the state-issued non-binary gender on the ID."
Henry eventually hung up in frustration.
She did not purchase a ticket after that.
“As it stands, at least with Delta, non-binary people are not allowed to fly."
"The supervisor said that’s not true."
"But when a policy makes it impossible to buy a ticket that will comport with TSA guidelines, the result is the same."
"And that’s discrimination.”
Just like back in 2019, Delta has "begun the process of updating" their system to give accessible options for nonbinary passengers. However, they told Pink News that won't come until later in the year.
Delta's spokesperson said:
"Delta Air Lines is a proud, long-time supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and we understand that being seen and acknowledged is part of having an equitable travel experience."
“As such, we have begun the process of updating our booking systems to be more inclusive by offering a non-binary gender option. We expect this option to be available to customers during the fourth quarter of 2022.”
Henry told NBC News they're fighting for inclusion for everyone with an X gender marker.
She said in a Twitter message:
“I am committed to fixing this, not just for my child, but for everyone who holds legal ID with an X gender marker.”
“My hope is that pressure on the airlines (not just Delta, but the others that have not updated their systems) will get this done.”
Twitter has definitely begun to pressure the airline for their lack of action.
The senior attorney for American Civil Liberties Union's LGBT and HIV Project, Josh Block, described Delta's policy as discriminatory given the number of courts that affirm transgender rights.
“There’s a major problem with Delta and possibly some other airlines not adapting their computer system to correspond to the reality that people have official government documents that recognize their nonbinary gender identity.”
“If an airline is having a policy that prevents people who are nonbinary from flying, that would pretty clearly violate that sex prohibition.”
Hopefully, this issue will be resolved sooner rather than later.