SSA amends gender change policy

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The Social Security Administration decided today to change a policy protecting the privacy of transgender people, according to The National Center for Transgender Equality.

The SSA has made it clearer and easier for transgender people to update the gender designation in Social Security records. The SSA joins other federal agencies like the U.S. State Department and the Veterans Health Administration in recognizing the realities of transgender lives and replacing outdated policies.

“Most people may not see this as a big deal, but transgender people know that this seemingly small technical change will protect their privacy and give them more control over their own lives” said Mara Keisling, NCTE executive director.

In light of the updated policy, NCTE has a released a guide to understanding the modernized policy called Transgender People and the Social Security Administration. The new resource answers commonly asked questions about the updated policy. It also provides step-by-step information for how account holders can change the gender designation in their Social Security record.

The new policy allows transgender people to change the gender designation on their Social Security Records by submitting either government-issued documentation reflecting a change, or certification from a physician confirming that they have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. This policy replaces SSA’s outdated policy, which required documentation of specific surgeries. The U.S. Military are the last remaining federal agencies to rely on the outdated requirements to change gender. Old policies remain for the military’s discharge papers as well as several other records systems, forcing veterans and retirees to meet extremely burdensome and unreasonable requirements t update their pension and service records.

NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin said, “The new policy gets rid of old, arbitrary requirements for specific medical treatments to update SSA records, even though these may not be available or appropriate for every person. The SSA’s revised policy is one of the last remaining major federal agency policies to drop these outdated requirements.”

“Prior to this policy update, trans people risked being unsafely outed to front line Social Security staff and to health care providers, or faced losing health care coverage already available to beneficiaries because a bureaucratic hiccup,” said Tobin.

Keisling added, “Importantly, Social Security records are gateways to so many other kinds of identity documents, from driver’s licenses to employment records, all of us depend on it in one way or another. This seemingly minor technical improvement touches every aspect of our lives and will have a profound impact on changing the way transgender people live and work.”

NCTE worked for seven years in collaboration with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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