An Arizona mother has criticized Delta Air Lines, saying the company would not let her buy a plane ticket for her nonbinary child because of the airline’s limited gender options in its booking process.
In a Twitter thread last week, Dawn Henry, 52, wrote that she was trying to purchase a surprise plane ticket for her adult child. However, she discovered while trying to book the ticket that Delta only provides male and female gender options.
Henry’s child identifies as nonbinary and has an X gender marker on their birth certificate and Washington State driver’s license.
Last week’s incident comes a few years after major U.S. airlines, including Delta, said they would add more gender options to be inclusive of nonbinary customers, according to NBC News.
American and United already offer additional gender options in their booking processes that are inclusive of nonbinary passengers.
“I am committed to fixing this, not just for my child, but for everyone who holds legal ID with an X gender marker,” Henry told NBC News in a Twitter message. “My hope is that pressure on the airlines (not just Delta, but the others that have not updated their systems) will get this done.”
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Henry said she reached out to Delta about the lack of gender options, but a supervisor told her that the company only recognizes male and female genders.
“But as it stands, at least with @Delta, #nonbinary people are not allowed to fly,” Henry wrote on Twitter. “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.”
NBC News notes that Transportation Security Administration advises travelers to have the same name, gender, and birth date as their government-issued ID. In this case, that would have been Henry’s child’s Washington license: an “X.”
When asked about the lack of gender options, Delta said in a statement to the outlet that it was not an easy fix.
“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,” the spokesperson said. “While we quickly shifted focus due to COVID in early 2020 to helping customers navigate the rapidly changing environment and government regulations, we are back on track to be able to offer a non-binary gender option in our booking systems in 2022.”
Josh Block, a senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT & HIV Project, told NBC News that Delta’s policy is discriminatory.
“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,” Block said. “If an airline is having a policy that prevents people who are nonbinary from flying, that would pretty clearly violate that sex prohibition.”
Alaska, JetBlue, and Southwest all do not have options besides male and female.
Henry said she was happy Delta was starting to follow through, “but a promise is not enough.”
“I will not stop pursuing this until every U.S. Airline with a discriminatory reservation system has made the long-overdue changes,” she said.