In January, a commenter on another website mentioned that she was not able to change her gender marker with Social Security. When I replied that the Social Security policy had changed, she asked for help on how to proceed. My original reply was not accepted, possibly because of length or because a URL was included. My condensed version was posted. Here is the full version.
Some transsexuals in the United States who changed their Social Security information before the spring of 2013 are not aware that the regulations have changed regarding changing your gender marker in the Social Security records. Previously, evidence of surgery was required by SSA to change the gender marker. That policy was changed in June 2013 so there would be consistency between SSA policy and State Department policy, which did not require evidence of surgery to use your preferred gender marker on your passport.
I had my name changed with Social Security immediately after the court approved my application for a legal name change. That was in January 2013. When I went back to my local Social Security office this past November, I had to school them on the new policy. But the clerk checked with a supervisor and five minutes later they processed my gender change without another hitch.
Social Security is a Federal agency, so they have access to the same regulations no matter which office is closest to you. It is your right to do this no matter where you live. So go for it. Here are some steps you can follow to expedite things:
>> To save time, go to www.ssa.gov and retrieve Form SS-5. It is the form that is used to either apply for or change info related to your Social Security card/account. It is a fill-in form so you can fill it out online and either save it to your computer or print it (but be aware that unless you only select the form page, you will also print out all the instructions). Or you can print or save the blank form and fill out offline. Whichever you find easier or you prefer.
Entering your social security number with the fill-in function is a bit tricky. Even though there are individual boxes for each number, you cannot tab from box to box. You have to put your cursor in the left hand box and type your first three numbers. Then tab and type your next two numbers. Tab again and type the last four numbers. Okay, you got past that item.
Number 8 (Sex) is the key item for our purposes. Check the box that applies to you now.
>> You will also need to bring the following items with you:
— Gender (You need one of the following documents; a full-validity,10-year U.S. passport showing the new sex; a state-issued amended birth certificate showing the new sex; a court order directing legal recognition of change of sex; or a medical certification of appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition in the form of an original letter from a licensed physician). The document must have enough biographical data (e.g., name and date of birth) to clearly identify you;
— Identity (see below*);
— U.S. citizenship (if you have not established your citizenship with Social Security); and
— SS-5 form (unless you want to fill it out and complete it there)
* Here are the documents you may use to prove your identity:
The SSA will accept only certain documents as proof of identity. An acceptable document must be current (not expired) and show your name, identifying information (date of birth or age) and preferably a recent photograph. A birth certificate is not a form of identification. As proof of identity, Social Security must see one of the following primary evidence documents:
— U.S. driver’s license;
— U.S. State-issued non-driver identification card; or
— U.S. passport.
If you do not have one of the above specific documents or you cannot get a replacement for one of them within 10 days, SSA will ask to see another document, such as your:
— Employee identification card/badge;
— Health insurance card or Medicaid card (not a Medicare card);
— U.S. military identification;
— U.S. Government identification card;
— Certificate of Naturalization;
— Certificate of U.S. Citizenship
— U.S. Indian Tribal card (Social Security has to approve as an acceptable ID);
— Certified copy of a medical record;
— School identity card, certified record, or transcript (current year); or
— Life insurance policy.
All documents must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency and must (unless otherwise indicated) have been issued within the last two years. SSA cannot accept photocopies or notarized copies of documents. SSA may use one document for two purposes. For example, SSA may use your U.S. passport as proof of your citizenship and identity.
While you are on the Social Security website, type “gender” in the search box. “How do I change my gender on social security records” is currently the fourth item from the top. It is where I printed out the list of items you need to bring with you (except for the proof of identity items – that was the answer to a separate FAQ). It appears to be FAQ 160 in their system. You might want to print out a copy of the page and bring it with you. The clerk still may want to double check with a supervisor, but it should add to your credibility.
You’ve gone through a lot to be entitled to that new gender marker. This is one more step that can be accomplished to affirm your true identity. It is your right to do this. Now you know how.
Ain’t no stoppin’ us now!