The Social Security Administration announced Wednesday that people can now change their gender by "self-attestation" on their official records.
"The Social Security Administration's Equity Action Plan includes a commitment to decrease administrative burdens and ensure people who identify as gender diverse or transgender have options in the Social Security Number card application process," said acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi. "This new policy allows people to self-select their sex in our records without needing to provide documentation of their sex designation."
According to the announcement, the agency has implemented the new policy, now giving people the option of changing their designated gender at the agency.
The agency said that people taking advantage of the new option will need to apply for a new card after updating their "sex marker."
"They will still need to show a current document to prove their identity, but they will no longer need to provide medical or legal documentation of their sex designation now that the policy change is in place," the agency said.
The agency said it will accept the applicant's "self-identified sex designation of either male or female, even if it is different from the sex designation shown on identity documents, such as a passport or state-issued driver's license or identity card."
According to the agency, Social Security cards do not include sex markers, and it cannot accept "non-binary" or "unspecified" sex designations in its record systems.
The announcement said that the agency hopes to support an "X" sex designation for the application process in the future.
To get a Social Security card, individuals must produce their birth certificate, or if one is not available, a religious or hospital record of birth prior to age 5, or a U.S. passport, a U.S. driver's license, or a non-driving state issued identification card, according to the agency.
Using a Social Security card as a form of identification in many aspects of American life increased in the 1960s and 1970s with the use of computers, giving governmental agencies and other organizations a way to automate data processing, the agency said.
It is also key in making sure workers can legally work in the United States, and employers are required to verify identification of employees through a federal database before they can start work.
"An overwhelming majority of public and private sector organizations in the U.S. use Social Security numbers [SSNs] as a normal part of their operations," the administration's website said. "Of the organizations responding in a 1988 Office of the Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services study of the extent incorrect SSNs are used, 81% reported using SSNs routinely."
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