Government Agencies Widen Gender Choices

Government Agencies Widen Gender Choices

On March 31, 2022, as part of the celebration of Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), the Biden administration announced new actions to “remove barriers that transgender people face accessing critical government services,” including at the Social Security Administration (SSA), Department of State, and US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

In a proclamation recognizing TDOV Biden said, “To everyone celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility, I want you to know that your President sees you,” adding that so many transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming Americans … serve proudly and openly in our military; get elected and make policy at every level of government; and run businesses, cure diseases, and serve our communities in countless other ways.”

More than a dozen actions announced on March 31 are designed to improve travel experiences for transgender individuals, provide resources for transgender kids and their families, improve access to federal services, and advance inclusion and visibility in federal data.

Key Takeaways

  • As part of Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, the Biden administration announced barrier removing measures at several government agencies.
  • Actions include allowing people to self-select their sex in Social Security records.
  • The Department of State will permit passport applicants to select a gender marker of (X).
  • The EEOC will also allow the selection of a non-binary “X” gender market for discrimination filings.
  • The Department of Homeland Security announced reforms to improve the traveler experience.
  • Additional resources and changes are designed to improve the experience of transgender Americans.

Social Security Administration (SSA)

Beginning in the fall of 2022, the Social Security Administration will let people choose (self-select) their sex in their Social Security number (SSN) record. The agency will also remove the requirement that transgender people show proof of identity such as doctor’s notes in order to update their gender information in their social security record. This, the administration believes, will significantly improve transgender individuals’ experience in accessing their retirement benefits, obtaining health care, and applying for jobs.

Department of State

In June 2021, the Department of State announced that passport applicants could self-select their gender without providing medical proof. As of April 11, 2022, US citizens will be able to select “X” as their gender marker on US passport applications. Further, the same option will become available for other forms of documentation next year.

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) plans to promote greater equity and inclusion for members of the LGBTQI+ community by giving individuals the option to select a nonbinary “X” gender marker during the voluntary self-identification question process that is part of filing a complaint regarding discrimination. In a press release announcing the change, the EEOC said, “The EEOC will incorporate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) proposal for how to define “X” in a way that promotes clarity and inclusion, as well as safety and privacy for individuals.”

Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security is announcing several reforms designed to improve the traveler experience for transgender Americans:

  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will offer updated non-gender-based body scanners with new technology that reduces false alarm rates and pat-downs for travelers. TSA will begin deploying this new technology in airports throughout the country later this year.
  • TSA will also work with air carriers to promote the use and acceptance of the “X” gender marker for efficient and accurate passenger processing.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the TSA are being updated to remove gender considerations when validating identification at airport security checkpoints.

Additional Resources and Changes

Other notable additional resources and changes to the federal government’s handling of transgender issues include:

  • Additional mental health resources for transgender kids and parents
  • Improved access to federal services and benefits for transgender Americans through the US Digital Service
  • Greater equity in filing an employment discrimination complaint
  • Improvements to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for transgender students
  • Improved access to the White House for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary visitors
  • Improved visibility in federal data

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