This Pride month, LGBT Technology Institute joins a number of civil and human rights groups by signing onto a letter sent to the White House drafted by the ACLU urging President Biden to issue an executive order to ensure that transgender, non-binary, and intersex people can obtain accurate identification and official records. During his campaign, Biden committed to ensuring access to proper identification, and as many states continue to attack transgender rights, it’s clear that it will take presidential action in order to implement this protective measure in a timely and adequate manner.
The proposed Executive Order by the ACLU and supporters would require that all federal agencies ensure that where federal ID documents or administrative records list gender, individuals would have the option to select M, F, or X. Additionally, the letter reminds the administration that under federal law, government agencies should regularly review their use of personal gender data to be sure that this information is only made available when necessary, as disclosure of this information can put trans, non-binary and intersex individuals in vulnerable situations. Already in 20 U.S. states, individuals have the option to select M, F, or X when determining their gender on state IDs and records. The implementation of this potentially life-saving practice has also been promoted by the American Medical Association.
Identification that accurately reflects a person’s gender can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Having inaccurate identification leads to constant misgendering and outing of transgender, non-binary, and intersex people, which can be very triggering, uncomfortable, and dangerous. Ensuring that the documentation necessary to obtain housing, jobs, and benefits accurately reflects people’s gender identities would be a tangible step towards ending LGBTQ+ poverty and homelessness, which trans and gender non-conforming people face at much higher rates than cisgender individuals.
Every year thousands of LGBTQ+ migrants apply for asylum in the United States, many of them fleeing persecution or discrimination in their countries of origin due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The letter states: “As Americans plan long-delayed travel and other matters; many still struggle to get back to work; and the nation recommits itself to welcoming visitors, asylum-seekers and refugees and other immigrants, now is the time to act to ensure they all have access to accurate identification.” If we want to position ourselves legitimately as a safe refuge for the LGBTQ+ community, the U.S. government needs to be able to ensure that LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers have accurate documents in order to ensure their safety and dignity.
Having identification that effectively outs trans, non-binary, and intersex individuals puts them at serious risk of discrimination and abuse when dealing with institutions such as the police. Studies have shown that half of transgender people have reported feeling unsafe seeking police assistance, and more than one-fifth of transgender people who have interacted with police have reported police harassment. These numbers increase exponentially for trans people of color.
A documentation system that does not acknowledge gender identities outside of the gender binary also bars people in the LGBTQ+ community from accessing crucial resources. In addition to inaccurate personal documentation causing confusion, delay, and even denial of benefits such as social security income or food stamps, there are also many programs that trans and nonbinary people may not have access to due to incorrect gender representation on their documents. Transgender and nonbinary individuals experience exceptionally high rates of intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, and homelessness. Many resources that exist to address these issues are gender specific, which, without accurate gender representation can leave trans, non-binary, and intersex people in vulnerable positions without resources. For example, if a trans woman seeks to access a women’s shelter for survivors of intimate partner violence, but her identification misgenders her as a man, oftentimes this resource will not be available to her. Many homeless shelters are also gender-specific, and nonbinary adults are almost twice as likely to experience unsheltered homelessness than cisgender adults.
President Biden campaigned on a promise of equality for the LGBTQ+ community. Issuing an Executive Order that would ensure that transgender, non-binary, and intersex members of our community have access to accurate identification and records is an tangible starting point in ensuring not only equality, but safety for the LGBTQ+ community. This Pride Month, LGBT Tech is proud to support this initiative calling on the president to implement access to gender affirming identification.