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146 NATIONAL TRANSGENDER DISCRIMINATION SURVEY

SOCIAL SECURITY

Given the written policy requiring completed surgery, it is not surprising that the ability to change the Social Security record was strongly connected to whether an individual had had surgery.

The Social Security Administration keeps a record of gender, although Social Security cards are issued without gender markers. It is the Social Security Administration’s current policy to change the gender in a transgender person’s records only upon proof of “completed” sex reassignment surgery (although the policy does not specify what types of surgery must be done). Before this current policy was adopted, it is our understanding that surgery was not always required and there are reports that even after the written policy went into effect, some people have been to update their records without showing proof of surgery.

For transgender women, 75% who have had some surgery updated their Social Security records, compared to 30% of those who have not had any surgery; 15 of those have had surgery and tried to update their records, 89% succeeded. Interestingly, more than half (56%) of those who tried to update their record but had not had any surgery were also successful. About half (48%) of those who have only had breast augmentation updated their record, with 23% denied, and 29% who have not tried; of those who tried, 67% were successful. Of those who had orchiectomy or vaginoplasty, 88% have changed their record, with 4% denied and 8% not tried; of those who tried, 95% were successful.

Only about half (49%) of those who transitioned have updated their Social Security gender record. Twelve percent (12%) were denied the change, 37% have not tried, and 3% chose not applicable (meaning they do not have a Social Security account or they did not want to update it). Transgender women were more likely to have updated their accounts, with 51% having done so, 100 compared to 44% of transgender men. 90

80 Ability to Change Gender in Social Security Record by Gender Identity 70 60 50

49% 51%

46%

44% 37%

40

30%

30 20

12%

15% 6%

10 0

Yes, changes allowed

3% 3% 4%

No, changes denied

Not tried

All Who Transitioned

MTF

Not applicable FTM

Of those who tried to update their gender in Social Security records, transgender men fared better than women. Transgender men who tried to update their records were able to do so in 89% of cases, compared to 77% for transgender women. Whether or not respondents had changed their Social Security 100 gender record differed by race. American Indian (35%), Asian 90 respondents were least likely to have (38%), and Black (38%) changed their records.80 70

Ability to Change Gender in Social Security Record by Race

60 50 40

49%

47% 37%

51%

47%

45%

38%

35%

38%

44%

39%

43%

35%

32%

30 20

14%

12% 10 0

3% All Who Transitioned

14% 5%

American Indian

7%

Asian

Yes, changes allowed

9%

7%

12%

11%

12%

10% 3%

Black No, changes denied

Latino/a Not tried

White Not applicable

3% Multiracial

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