Trans people need accurate and consistent IDs to open bank accounts, start new jobs, enroll in school, and travel. However, the name and gender change process is complicated and sometimes prohibitively expensive. Moreover, many state and federal governments have intrusive and burdensome requirements—such as proof of surgery or court orders—that have made it sometimes impossible for trans people to update their IDs. As a result, only one-fifth (21%) of transgender people who have transitioned according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey have been able to update all of their IDs and records with their new gender and one-third (33%) had updated none of their IDs or records. The survey results also confirmed what most trans people already knew—that gender incongruent identification exposes people to a range of negative outcomes, from denial of employment, housing, and public benefits to harassment and physical violence.
NCTE works to remove barriers such as surgery and court order requirements to ensure all trans people have access to accurate IDs. We worked closely with the U.S. State Department and the Social Security Administration to eliminate the surgical requirement for updating passports and social security records. We provide technical assistance for states to update their name change, driver’s license and birth certificate policies. Today, about half of states no longer impose such burdensome requirements for driver’s licenses and state IDs, and growing numbers are streamlining procedures. NCTE launched the Trans Legal Services Network in 2013 to ensure that local organizations are better equipped to assist trans individuals navigating the name and gender change process.
If you are interested in working to improve laws and policies related to name changes, driver’s licenses, or birth certificates in your state, contact NCTE—we can help.