For the past ten years SRLP has worked tirelessly to urge local, state and federal government agencies to change their onerous gender marker policies. Just two weeks ago, SRLP participated in a groundbreaking meeting with the Social Security Administration about LGBT issues coordinated by the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Transgender Law Center, and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce. During the meeting, SRLP Attorney Pooja Gehi helped convince Social Security officials of the need for a policy change by presenting stories of the discrimination our community members have experienced while trying to access services at the Social Security Administration.
We are excited to share today that the Social Security Administration has finally changed the gender marker policy from one that requires a form of surgery that is permanently sterilizing to one that only requires a doctor’s letter that affirms their patient’s self determined gender. We want to thank our colleagues at NCTE and NGLTF for their hard work on this important change! To read the policy go here.
Why is this such a big victory for trans people, especially those who are low income, disabled and/or people of color?
Our work prioritizes access to gender affirming identity documents for trans people who are low income, immigrants, disabled, people of color and in prison. We do this work because ID policies worsen already high levels of danger and vulnerability when dealing with police, impact ability to get healthcare, housing and education and keep people safer from transphobic violence.
Surgery policies, like the former Social Security Administration regulation, create huge obstacles for poor people and people of color who may not be able to afford nor want a form of surgery that is permanently sterilizing (See SRLP former attorney Gabriel Arkles’ article Prisons as a Tool for Reproductive Oppression for more information on this).
SRLP and community based organizations have advocated on the local level to bring New York City’s policies in line with ones that affirm self determination. Collectively we have won victories from city agencies such as the Department of Homeless Services, the foster care system, Human Resources Administration (which administers welfare benefits), the Department of Motor Vehicles and the NYPD, all of which have changed their gender policies.
At the state level we have successfully advocated with the Department of Correctional Services and the Juvenile Justice system to affirm people’s preferred names and genders, change the way they administer transition-related healthcare, and to allow placements according to individual self determination of safety.
The work of SRLP and our allies on the federal level resulted in changes to the US passport policy and immigration gender marker policy. Both agencies now no longer require surgery to change one’s gender marker.
While we do not believe that medical evidence should ever be required to affirm a person’s gender identity, we do believe that today’s announcement marks a huge victory for low income people, and/or people of color who are trans, gender non conforming and intersex.
Congratulations to NCTE and everyone whose work made today’s victory possible!