Social Security OKs some gender updates; “X” designation pending

Social Security Gender
A Social Security card is displayed in Tigard, Ore., Oct. 12, 2021.
AP Photo/Jenny Kane

WASHINGTON (AP) — Individuals will be allowed to make sure that their records with the Social Security Administration align with their gender identity under a plan announced October 19.

The action, which is part of the agency’s “Equity Action Plan,” follows through on a March announcement to do so by the agency’s acting commissioner, Kilolo Kijakazi.

Kijakazi said the move is part of a “commitment to decrease administrative burdens and ensure people who identify as gender diverse or transgender have options in the Social Security Number card application process.” It’s also part of a larger Biden administration-wide effort to increase acceptance of gender identity.

In June, President Joe Biden signed an executive order meant to take steps to advance LGBTQ equality, including “strengthening supports and protections for transgender Americans.”

At Social Security, the agency will accept the applicant’s self-identified gender identity of either male or female, even if it is different from the designation shown on identity documents, such as a passport or state-issued driver’s license or identity card.

The agency says it is exploring possible future policy and systems updates to support an “X” designation for the SSN card application process for people who don’t identify as male or female.

In June 2021, the State Department started implementing procedures to allow applicants to self-select their gender, including an “X,” and no longer required medical certification if an applicant’s self-selected gender does not match the gender on their other citizenship or identity documents.

The Department of Homeland Security has reformed its screening process at US airports for transgender travelers and the Department of Housing and Urban Development has implemented protections for homeless transgender people who seek emergency shelter access consistent with their gender identity.

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