Transgender men and women will no longer have to provide proof of complete sexual reassignment surgery to change their gender on Social Security records, according to a new ruling by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
A report from ThinkProgress says the SSA will now accept a certificate from a physician confirming appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, court order, 10-year passport or birth certificate as proof of gender transition.
Sexual reassignment procedures are expensive and also makes the individual give up their ability to reproduce. The SSA, instead, will now view documentation of appropriate changes to lifestyle as sufficient evidence to change gender records.
A statement from the National Center for Transgender Eqaulity explained that “appropriate clinical treatment” varies.
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“The new policy recognizes that people’s medical needs vary, and that treatment options must be decided by health care professionals on an individual basis,” the statement said. “You are entitled to an updated gender marker if you have had the clinical treatment determined by your health care providers to be appropriate, in your individual case, to facilitate gender transition. No specific type of treatment is required, and details of your treatment should not be included in the letter from your physician to SSA.”
“This is a tremendous victory for our community,” said Transgender Law Center legal director Ilona Turner in a statement. “The Social Security Administration was one of the last agencies to hold onto an outdated, one-size-fits-all standard for gender change. Transgender people will now be able to change all their federal documents with a simple letter from their doctor recognizing that they have undergone the appropriate treatment for them.”
Mara Keisling, president of the National Center for Transgender Equality, which advocated for the policy change, told Metro Weekly in a statement that the small policy change will have a large impact.
“All information for Medicare comes from Social Security, including the gender marker on the Medicare card,” Keisling said. “If you are not able to change your gender marker on your Social Security account, your gender marker is going to be messed up in other places. Until today, we’ve had to fix each program one at a time.”
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The SSA also issued instructions to staff to be sensitive to pronoun usage when speaking with transgender clients and to use proper confidentiality, The Advocate reported.