Boston, MA [6/20/2013] — The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is pleased to report that effective June 13 the Social Security Administration no longer requires an individual to undergo surgery to have the gender marker changed in SSA records.
The SSA will now accept “medical certification of appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition in the form of an original signed statement from a licensed physician” as proof when submitting the change request form. Prior to this policy change, the medical certification specified completing surgery.
“With this Social Security policy, the federal government is acknowledging that important gender-related medical decisions should be made by individuals and their doctors,” said Jesse Begenyi, interim director of MTPC.
This new SSA policy reflects that the current standard of care for transgender individuals no longer requires surgery as part of gender transition. In fact, at its annual meeting this week, the American Medical Association passed a resolution in support of US jurisdictions changing the gender marker on birth certificates for transgender individuals based upon “verification by a physician that the individual has undergone transition according to applicable medical standards of care.”
“Surgery is not financially feasible, desirable or medically appropriate for some individuals, so that has been a permanent roadblock for many transgender people in getting their records changed,” Begenyi said.
Many government agencies and companies access Social Security data for verification purposes, so the new policy ensures that medical history remains confidential except when disclosure is necessary for the health and safety of the individual.
The National Center for Transgender Equality has released “Transgender People and the Social Security Administration,” a resource to help transgender people across the country to understand and take advantage of the new Social Security policy. This resource, which includes the wording physicians should use for their medical certification letters, is available at http://transequality.org/Resources/SSAResource_June2013.pdf. MTPC’s website is also being updated to reflect the change.
“MTPC is grateful to NCTE, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Lesbian Rights for their dedication over the past seven years to secure this important Social Security policy change,” Begenyi said.
Founded in 2001, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is a 501(c)(3) that works to end discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. MTPC educates the public; advocates with state, local, and federal government; engages in activism; and encourages empowerment of community members through collective action. MTPC is a member of the Trans Advocacy Network, the Equality Federation, and the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition.