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Social Security Administration makes it easier to change sex marker in records

Social Security sex marker now easier to change
Social Security Administration makes it easier to change sex marker in records 01:17

The Social Security Administration (SSA) said it will now allow people to change the sex marker on their Social Security number record without providing documentation of their sex designation. The change was announced Wednesday, and went into effect immediately.

"The Social Security Administration's Equity Action Plan includes 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," Kilolo Kijakazi, the acting commissioner of the SSA, said in the press release.

Prior to the announcement, people could not change their sex marker solely with self-attestation. According to the SSA, applicants were required to demonstrate a gender identity change through other identification, such as a U.S. passport or amended state-issued birth certificate, or with a court order or medical certification of gender transition. 

Under the updated policy, applicants "will still need to show a current document to prove their identity, but they will no longer need to provide medical or legal documentation of their sex designation," the SSA said. Additionally, the sex listed on one's proof of identity document does not need to match the requested change. 

However, if a person changes their sex marker, they will need to apply for a replacement SSN card, the SSA said.

While the SSA is currently only allowing for the sex designation to be changed to either male or female, the agency is "exploring possible future policy and systems updates to support an 'X' sex designation for the SSN card application process."

In March, the State Department announced that U.S. citizens applying for passports would be able to select an "X" sex designation, which would allow non-binary, transgender, intersex, and gender diverse people to select a sex option that is neither male nor female.

"We're setting a precedent as the first US federal government agency to offer the 'X' gender marker on an identity document," said Douglass Benning, principal deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, at the time of the announcement earlier this year.

The removal of barriers for sex marker changes on official government records comes during a contentious political and social climate for transgender and gender non-conforming Americans. President Biden signed an Executive Order during Pride Month to advance equality for LGBTQ+ people across the country, specifically citing "discriminatory legislative attacks" against the underserved community. 

A record 155 bills meant to target transgender Americans have been introduced to state legislature in 2022, according to the Washington Post. Currently, a landmark federal trial is underway in Arkansas over a law that prohibits hormone treatment, puberty blockers, and gender-affirming surgery for anyone under 18 years old — the country's first trial over a statewide ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth.

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