United just made a big move in favor of gender equality in the travel industry.
The company announced on Friday that it is officially the first U.S. airline to include non-binary gender options for customers while booking flights.
While most major airlines usually only offer the binary options “male” and “female” or variations of “Mr.” and “Ms.”, United will be offering the gender-neutral title “Mx.” along with the gender options “M(male), F(female), U(undisclosed) or X(unspecified).”
United invited customers to “Fly how you identify” in a tweet announcing the new options.
Fly how you identify. Our new non-binary gender options are now available.— United Airlines (@united) March 22, 2019
“United is excited to share with our customers, whether they identify along the binary of male or female or not, that we are taking the steps to exhibit our care for them while also providing additional employee training to make us even more welcoming for all customers and employees,” United's Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist said in the company’s statement.
Beck Bailey, acting director of the Workplace Equality Program at the Human Rights Campaign, added in the statement that United implementing these new options is “taking an important step forward for non-binary inclusion.”
It is important to note, however, that these options must also correspond to a person’s gender that is marked on their passports and identification as well in order to fly. This can make matters complicated for non-binary and transgender people who have to jump through legal hoops to get their gender assignment changed on their identification.
If a person marks their non-binary identity on their ticket and it does not match their passport or ID, they can run the risk of being turned away at airport security. This rule also applies to your birth date and your name. Even a wrong or omitted middle name on your documents can end up throwing a wrench in your travel plans.
Luckily, systems for identification are changing. Many states now offer non-binary birth certificates and IDs, according to The New York Times.
United is working with LGBTQ organizations like The Human Rights Campaign and The Trevor Project in order to train employees on sensitivity, including using preferred pronouns. The company hopes to “lead the industry in LGBT inclusivity.”
According to USA Today, other airlines like American Airlines and Southwest Airlines may also follow suit. Back in February, Airlines for America, a trade association that represents many U.S. airlines approved a standard of best practices that allow for non-binary IDs, according to People.