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WASHINGTON, DC, March 31, 2022 – The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is celebrating major victories for transgender people today with the announcement by the Biden-Harris administration of major changes by the US State Department, US Transportation Security Administration and the US Social Security Administration.
According to the White House, the State Department will begin issuing passports with an X gender marker option in about two weeks.
In addition, the TSA will make several critical changes that will make it easier for transgender people to travel, including:
- Reprogramming AIT scanners (full-body scanners) to use gender-neutral screening, so TSA agents will no longer need to guess at each traveler’s gender;
- No longer using gender as a factor to verify identity when entering a TSA checkpoint;
- Implementing new training and screening procedures to protect the safety and dignity of transgender travelers;
- Working with airlines to improve requirements for gender markers on tickets; and
- Making Trusted Traveler programs like TSA PreCheck and Global Entry more accessible and usable for transgender travelers, especially those who have X gender markers on their documents.
The Social Security Administration will begin phasing out the use of gender identity verification later this year, introducing an X gender marker within SSA systems in 2023, and simplifying the process of updating gender markers.
“NCTE has been working tirelessly on these reforms since our organization was founded nearly 20 years ago. These critical improvements in federal policy by the Biden administration will make the lives of transgender people better,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “President Biden demonstrates his administration’s commitment to equality of all people under the law. Today’s actions will help reduce harassment, discrimination, and violence against transgender people who are just trying to live our lives.”
In addition to the policy changes, President Biden’s budget proposal includes $10 million to ensure the collection of gender identity and sexual orientation data in the American Community Survey.
NCTE has advocated for this change for years and recently supported a study with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine promoting better SOGI data collection.
- The Biden administration also announced other critical departmental initiatives, including:
- US Department of Health and Human Services will provide resources for LGBTQ-inclusive mental health in response to state-level cuts in mental health resources and access for LGBTQ people;
- The US Department of Education will conduct trainings on how to respectfully interact with transgender students;
- The Free Application for Federal Student Aid will allow for better collection of gender information to make it easier for transgender people to access financial assistance; and
- The National Center for Health Statistics will release the results of a first-of-its-kind study on different definitions of X gender markers.
“While transgender people are being attacked and targeted by state and local politicians, the Biden administration is sending a clear message – especially to transgender young people – that the president of the United States has their back,” Heng-Lehtinen said. “With harassment and violence against transgender Americans on the rise, the support of the president and his concrete actions will help generations of transgender Americans live a better, safer, and happier life.”
The National Center for Transgender Equality advocates to change policies and society to increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people. In the nation’s capital and throughout the country, NCTE works to replace disrespect, discrimination, and violence with empathy, opportunity, and justice. www.ncte.org