September 16, 2011 at 8:35 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
SSA policy change aids trans workers

The Social Security Administration has made a pro-trans policy change ending the practice of allowing gender to be matched in its verification system.

The change means the Social Security Administration will no longer send notifications to alert employers when the gender marker on an employee’s W-2 forms doesn’t match Social Security records.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, the practice led to the job loss and outing of transgender works. A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that 711,488 gender no-match letters were sent in 2010 alone.

Mara Keisling, the National Center for Transgender Equality’s executive director, said ending this practice has been a top priority and she’s “pleased” with the updated policy.

“Alerting employers about differences in someone’s gender threatened people’s jobs and did not accomplish what this verification system was designed for,” Keisling said. “There was absolutely no reason for it and it was extremely dangerous for transgender people, who still face significant disrespect, discrimination and violence in the workplace.”

The Social Security Administration didn’t respond on short notice to a request to comment on the policy change. It’s unclear exactly when the change was made.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said, “The White House welcomes this move by Social Security Administration.”

Another potential policy change from the Social Security Administration to aid transgender Americans remains outstanding. The agency could change its practices so that it no longer requires proof of sex reassignment surgery to change gender markers.

Keisling said this policy is outdated and places unfair standard of proof on transgender people.

“These requirements, particularly surgery, are far too expensive for many transgender people and present a major financial hurdle for a group of people who already face significantly high levels of under-employment and unemployment,” Keisling said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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