On March 31, the White House announced new measures to advance equality and visibility among transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming individuals.
These federal updates include additional gender options when filing discrimination claims and on U.S. passports, procedural modifications to airport security and changes to Social Security records to promote inclusion.
The news comes on Transgender Day of Visibility, an annual observance dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of transgender and gender nonconforming people while raising awareness of the work that still needs to be done to achieve trans justice.
“Transgender people are some of the bravest people in our nation,” the White House said in a statement. “Today, the Biden Administration announced new actions to support the mental health of transgender children, remove barriers that transgender people face accessing critical government services and improve the visibility of transgender people in our nation’s data.”
EEOC Adds Gender-Neutral Option
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will start offering the option to select a nonbinary “X” gender marker for the voluntary self-identification questions when filing a charge of discrimination.
“The addition of a nonbinary gender marker to the EEOC’s charge intake process will be an important step to promote greater inclusion for members of the LGBTQI+ community,” EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows said in a statement. “To advance our mission to prevent and remedy employment discrimination, we must serve all workers, including those who do not identify as male or female. Our public-facing forms should make clear that we respect that diversity.”
The EEOC will update its charge of discrimination form to include “Mx.” in the list of prefix options. The agency will also incorporate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) proposal for how to define “X” in a way that promotes clarity and inclusion, safety and privacy for individuals.
The NCHS’s proposed definition of “X” is based on user testing performed in 2022. The proposal includes “unspecified,” which promotes privacy for workers who do not want to disclose their gender identity. It also includes an option for “another gender identity” for individuals who do not identify as male or female.
TSA Screening Modifications
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will be updating its standard operating procedures to improve the screening experience for transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming travelers.
The new screening procedures will limit pat-downs for certain passengers who trigger the advanced imaging technology body scanner without compromising security. The DHS believes the modification will improve efficiency and reduce invasiveness for travelers.
These procedures will be in effect until the new gender-neutral screening technology is deployed.
“DHS is committed to protecting the traveling public while ensuring that everyone, regardless of gender identity, is treated with respect,” DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas
said in a statement. “The new measures announced today are part of a whole-of-government effort to promote equity and inclusion in all our programs and processes. We are proud to work with our interagency partners on this effort and look forward to rapidly implementing these changes to better serve the American public.”
This year, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will update its precheck program to include an “X” gender marker option. This ensures that the precheck system accurately reflects traveler gender and keeps pace with identity documents that offer the “X” gender marker option, including U.S. passports beginning on April 11.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also evaluating whether to update the Trusted Traveler Programs application to add an “X” gender option to align with the U.S. Department of State’s passport options.
Improving Access to Federal Services
The Social Security Administration announced that it is removing the requirement that transgender people provide proof, such as a doctor’s note, to update their gender information in their Social Security record by fall 2022.
This will improve transgender people’s experience in accessing retirement benefits, applying for jobs and obtaining health care, the White House said.
Next month, the Department of Education plans to propose that the 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid form will include an option for gender identity and race/ethnicity when applying for financial aid.
The White House said that this privacy-protected information “would help to inform the Department about possible barriers students, including transgender and nonbinary students, face in the financial aid process.”
Read the White House’s
fact sheet to learn more about the changes the federal government has announced.