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Petitioning US State Department - Bureau of Consular Affairs

Allow Darker Backdrops in US Passport Photos for People With Albinism

My boyfriend has albinism, meaning that his hair and skin are lighter than mine and his vision is significantly worse. Because of his albinism, he was recently denied a U.S. passport. The Bureau of Consular Affairs said his complexion in his passport photo didn't contrast enough with the required white backdrop. In order to obtain a valid passport photo it was recommended that he wear dark, heavy makeup so that his face would stand out. This may not seem like a big deal, but think about it this way:

A black man wants to go overseas so he applies for his passport, sending in all of the necessary documents along with his photo only to be denied one. "Your face doesn't contrast enough with the black backdrop," they explain. "Just buy some pale makeup and get your picture retaken."

That would be ridiculous, right? This is essentially what happened to my boyfriend this weekend because he was deemed too pale. The same thing happened to his sister a few years ago. She had to retake her passport photo three times before her makeup was dark enough for the state department to be able to authorize her a passport. Today, Corey put on heavy makeup for his retake, but it might be a couple more tries before the department approves his photo.

People with albinism have an absence of pigment in their skin, hair, and eyes. Albinism is an inherited trait, caused by genes that are unable to create melanin. One in 17,000 people in the US have some form of albinism. Most people with albinism are visually impaired and have extremely sensitive skin. To learn more about albinism visit Noah: The National Association for Albinism and Hypopigmentation.

By signing this petition, you will help in the implementation of an alternative backdrop for passport photos. You will be letting the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs know that they are unintentionally discriminating against people with albinism. With dark backdrops, people with albinism won't have to apply ridiculous amounts of dark makeup in order to get their passports.

Thank you for your support!

This petition was delivered to:
  • US State Department - Bureau of Consular Affairs


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