June 14, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Transgender advocates applaud new Social Security policy

Gay News, Washington Blade, Mara Keisling, Transgender

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Social Security Administration on Friday announced transgender people will be able to update their gender on agency records without having undergone sex-reassignment surgery.

Trans people under the new policy can either submit a passport or birth certificate that notes their gender or a letter from their doctor that confirms they have received transition-related treatment.

The National Center for Transgender Equality, which had sought the policy change for seven years, noted the State Department and the Veterans Health Administration are among the other federal agencies that have implemented similar policies. The Pentagon still requires trans servicemembers and veterans to prove they have undergone sex-reassignment surgery in order to change their gender for military pensions and other beneficiary programs.

“Most people may not see this as a big deal, but transgender people know that this seemingly small technical change will protect their privacy and give them more control over their own lives” NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, described the new policy as a “big win for LGBT equality.”

“This new policy is in line with how transgender people live their lives and is in line with the medical community’s consensus on when a person’s gender should be recognized,” she said.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project also worked with NCTE and the Task Force to secure the policy change.

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Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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