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June 16, 2014

Two Recent Policy Victories for Transgender People

What would you do without an accurate I.D.?

Imagine the challenges associated with having to present identification that misrepresents your gender identity--whether at the airport, during a traffic stop, or in countless other situations--and then being mistreated, denied benefits or subjected to discrimination. For many transgender people, including elders, this is a daily reality.

Two major recent policy victories will help to change this, by making it easier for transgender people to obtain accurate legal documentation--a critical tool in accessing public services and housing, traveling safely, and fully engaging in civic life.

On June 5, New York State announced that it will no longer require New Yorkers to provide documentation of gender reassignment surgery or hormonal treatments to update the gender on their birth certificates. This will alleviate the bureaucratic burden of documenting these procedures for some transgender individuals. For others who choose not to undergo medical intervention, this announcement will mean that for the first time, their legal documentation can match their true identities.

Last week, more good news: the American Medical Association announced that transgender people shouldn't be required to have surgical intervention in order to change the gender reflected on their birth certificates.

Each of these steps toward transgender equality will have special significance for transgender older adults, since accurate legal documentation is vital to accessing services like Medicaid, social security, and nutrition benefits. When an accurate I.D. is easier to obtain, these services will be, too.

For more about these issues and why they're important, read Improving the Lives of Trangender Adults, a report published by SAGE and the National Center for Transgender Equality in 2012.

-- Posted by Kira Garcia

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