Administrative Law - Identity Records - Social Security Administration Eliminates Surgical Requirement for Changing Trans Individuals' Gender Markers

Harvard Law Review, April 2014 | Go to article overview

Administrative Law - Identity Records - Social Security Administration Eliminates Surgical Requirement for Changing Trans Individuals' Gender Markers


ADMINISTRATIVE LAW--IDENTITY RECORDS--SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION ELIMINATES SURGICAL REQUIREMENT FOR CHANGING TRANS INDIVIDUALS' GENDER MARKERS.--SOC. SEC. ADMIN., PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM, RM 10212.200 Changing Numident Data for Reasons Other than Name Change (2013)

On June 14, 2013, the Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a new policy for trans individuals (1) seeking to change their gender designation in their Social Security records. (2) Under the SSA's previous policy, trans people seeking to change their gender markers were required to provide documentation of sex reassignment surgery (SRS). (3) Under the new policy, they can choose to submit either government-issued documentation that reflects a gender change, a court order directing legal recognition of the change, or a physician's statement confirming the trans individual has received "appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition." (4) This policy change, which garnered little attention outside the LGBT press, (5) was the consequence of a deliberate advocacy strategy to engage in the administrative policymaking process and will tangibly improve millions of trans people's lives.

Despite their numerical prevalence, (6) trans people face severe and pervasive discrimination within American society. The first comprehensive national survey on trans discrimination, conducted in 2011, found that trans people are four times as likely as the general population to live in extreme poverty, twice as likely to be unemployed, and almost twice as likely to be homeless. (7) Forty-seven percent of those surveyed reported experiencing an adverse job outcome (such as being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion) because of their trans status. (8) Discrimination is especially prevalent in institutional settings: 19% reported being refused medical care due to their trans status; 15% of those who had been to prison reported being sexually assaulted there; and of those who expressed a gender-nonconforming identity in grades K-12, 78% reported harassment, 35% physical assault, and 12% sexual violence. (9) A shocking 41% of those surveyed have attempted suicide--compared to just 1.6% of the general population. (10) These negative outcomes occur even though trans people have a higher level of educational attainment and civic participation than the general population. (11)

Within such a context, access to gender-affirming identity documents takes on crucial importance. In everyday life, identity documents are frequently needed to "travel, open bank accounts, start new jobs, purchase alcohol ... [and] some cold medicines[,].... [and] vot[e];" (12) and they are also needed in encounters with police. (13) Possessing identity documents that do not match their gender expression exposes trans people to the risks of harassment, denial of services, and even violence in routine social settings. (14) However, only 21% of trans people have reported being able to update all of their identity records--while 33% have not been able to update any. (15) This state of affairs reflects the widely varying policies governing gender reclassification at the federal, state, and local levels, which lead to disparate outcomes for individuals similarly situated with respect to their gender transition. (16)

As a piece of federal documentation, one's Social Security record is of special importance. Ever since the Social Security Number (SSN) became the first unique national identification system in 1935, Social Security records have been used for an "enormous variety" of governmental and commercial purposes, including federal criminal investigations and taxpayer, military, and veteran identifications. (17) Today, Social Security records are used to verify not only Social Security and disability benefits, but also many federal and state welfare benefits (including food stamps), as well as immigration status. (18)

Although the Social Security Act does not require it, the SSA records gender data. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Administrative Law - Identity Records - Social Security Administration Eliminates Surgical Requirement for Changing Trans Individuals' Gender Markers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.