Meet Becky: From Suicide to Survival

transgender older adult tells suicide survival story and medicare

For many people the college years are the best of their life, but for Becky college was a tragic time. Becky is a transgender woman who struggled with her identity throughout her youth, culminating in a suicide attempt while studying at a major university. Fortunately, she survived the attempt and was able to rise through the high tech industry and eventually transition. But Becky was left with injuries from her suicide attempt in college, and now depends upon Medicare benefits to cover essential medical care.

As she transitioned, Becky was able to change her name and update her driver’s license. Once she retired, she updated her Social Security records to reflect her new name. A few weeks later, she received a new card under that name. When she became eligible for Medicare, Becky applied, but Medicare uses Social Security records to review applicants. This resulted not only in her old name being erroneously listed on her Medicare card, but also her old gender marker. Without an accurate Medicare card, Becky risked losing crucial coverage. She worried that she would be without the basic medical care that she depends on each and every day.

After trying several times to correct the gender marker on her Medicare card, Becky realized that she had reached a bureaucratic impasse. At this point she reached out to NCTE for help and was able to correct her Medicare records and quickly receive a new card.

Becky’s story is an example of why NCTE made it a top priority for seven years to change Social Security’s policies regarding changing gender markers and to continue expanding access to accurate identification. Our victory with the Social Security Administration is a example of why it is truly our moment to take hold of the momentum we have gathered and turn it into immediate positive change. 

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