Saturday, 11 August 2007

Going Backwards

A Seattle local writes:
"I am post-op and live in Seattle, and have visited the Social Security Office three times now. The first time I was told I did not have all the paperwork I needed, the second time they flagged my number as fraudulent because I was trying to change the gender on my card. I am still trying to change the marker, by following the policies in place, but I'm getting no cooperation from the office."
Not unusual. Sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes months, sometimes years. It depends on the competence, and often the religious convictions, of the bureaucrats responsible. Just something we have to live with. Except that now it has more severe consequences.
An Orlando local writes,
"Previously, the Social Security Administration was sending out letters to businesses where employee's name or gender marker on their file weren't matching.

These "No-Match" letters told the company that they had 60 days to fix this information or have the employee update their information. This previously caused transgender employees to be outted at their workplace. A new policy going into effect will require companies to fire employees if they do not fix the information within 90 days. If this policy goes into effect, there will be a lot of unemployed transgender individuals. I've actually received a notice from my employer a few months ago regarding one of these letters from the SSA. I'm definitely seeing this issue popping up again for me in the near future.

While the new policy is meant to find those who have committed identity fraud, it has an inadvertent effect on the LGBT community."
Well, I hope it's a bug, and not a feature. There have been too many of these recently.
This policy will cause the most problems for anyone who is pre-operative, living "full time", and has an employer who sends gender markers to Social Security as part of the verification. These individuals will be flagged, and if they are unable to clear the issue with the Social Security Administration, they will have to out themselves at work or risk loosing their jobs. Before the Social Security Administration will change the gender marker on a Social Security Card, they require a letter from the surgeon. There are many individuals who are unable to have surgery for medical reasons, and these individuals will always be "in transition" as they are unable to complete surgery and the final steps of the process. This same problem exists for most states and Birth Certificates, which must also match the Social Security Card.
TS people from Ohio, Tennessee, and some counties in Texas cannot get their Birth Certificates changed. In Tennessee, the state constitution was amended specifically to disadvantage TS people here, it's not a matter of a simple change to the law.

Did they really mean for all TS US citizens born in Ohio and Tennessee to be fired, and be made unemployable (and unable to claim social security benefits)? Or is it an unintended consequence?

Maybe it will all collapse under its own weight. But maybe not. It's not as if TS people can just change their residence, this is a matter of where they were born.

It must be incompetence, not malice. I hope.


Marty said...

The thing is, you cannot change your sex.

You can change your appearance, your speech, you can add or remove various parts of your anatomy, but you still haven't changed who you are -- you've only hidden it.

This may not matter to you, or anyone else. But here's a scenario that illustrates the point:

Say you are M2F who was abducted, murdered, and buried in a shallow grave (God forbid). And 20 years from now, someone discovers your bones and attempts to identify the remains. What will they be looking for? A caucasian male. Why? Because that's what you are... all the surgery or make-up in the world isn't going to change that fact.

Lying on your birth certificate is an act of fraud and self-deception, imo.

Zoe Brain said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Marty. If you have a browse through it, you'll find lots of things on Intersex conditions, the probable biological cause of Transsexuality, lots of things on neuroscience generally. Hopefully you'll be both entertained and informed.

Now onto your scenario:

If they go by the pelvic bones, the usual way of determining sex when there's no DNA, mine will come up as female. That's according to my SRS surgeon, it made things a little easier in some respects, a little harder in others. A lot of us who are TS have some anomalies like that.

It will also show I've never delivered vaginally though, that leaves marks.

Have you had a Karyotype lately? You could be genetically female with 46xx chromosomes and a translocated Sry complex. Tests on degraded DNA would show that as unquestionably Female.

As for not changing sex - have a look at 5ARD or 17BHD deficiency.

If you look on a Birth Certificate as a hostorical document, as some do, then it's arguable that "boy" is correct in my case, based on chromosomes and somatic configuration at birth.

If you look upon the Birth Certificate as a reflection of someone's current sex, something it's often used as, then it's arguably inaccurate based on neurology and somatic configuration now. It depends on your definition of "man" and "woman".

And for that, I suggest you read this entry.

Hope you like the blog. There's also things like "Blue Suede Shoes" in the original Klingon, brain teasers, and Space articles too. I'm TS, but I'm primarily a Geek Girl, and the blog both predates and transcends trainsition.

Marty said...

So which are you, chromosomally speaking?

Without any modification, are/were you capable of motherhood or fatherhood or neither?

Marty said...

Nevermind, I see...

But why would anyone look at a "birth certificate" as a reflection of someone's current sex?

They don't call it a BIRTH certificate for nothing.

Twisted, sister.

Unknown said...

I'm in the process of doing the legal name change. There are various levels of it in California, 1 of 6 states that recognizes common law name change.

For a state ID/drivers license a note from your MD will get you a name and gender marker change (DL 238 form). I've completed this phase.

A name change is just a matter of filing for a change of name with the court.

Gender change requires a note from a surgeon that he has performed surgery for the purpose of gender enhancement. Note that no specific type of surgery is required. The statute says nothing about GRS or any other surgery.

I've filed for both and my hearing date is in October.

With a legal gender change you can have your birth certificate changed provided you were born in California.

The court order for name change will get you a new name on a Social Security card. The gender change is less certain. The agency's policy is unclear. It's really the luck of the draw of who you get for a case worker. The good news is there is no gender marker on a Social Security card.

This applies only to California. There are 49 other states with 49 different set of laws.

Thank the Goddess I was born in California!