Self-Attestation is the Right Step for the Social Security AdministrationReading Time: 2 Minutes
Last Updated: November 14, 2022
The two most important parts of transition for many transgender, nonbinary, and gender diverse people are changing their name and correcting their gender marker on official records. This process often required jumping through many legal, medical and bureaucratic hoops.
Medical certification created unnecessary barriers for trans, nonbinary or gender diverse persons. These included:
- Incurring monetary costs for a doctor to provide a medical certification.
- Incurring wait time to process, review, and accept the medical certification document (i.e., ensuring the correct wording, spelling, and color of ink signature).
Previously, this administrative process caused trans persons to submit multiple versions of a doctor’s letter before they received one that was accepted.
Social Security’s new policy on Self-Attestation eliminates what can often be the most frustrating of those hoops. Under this new policy, Social Security no longer requires legal or a medical documentation to certify a person’s gender before it can be changed on their record. When the information that someone reports on a document does not need verification by a secondary source, that is called self-attestation. Self-attestation is the standard we use for information on most forms that we fill out. For instance, nobody is called upon to prove their height or weight on their driver’s license application.
Here are the steps to follow to update their sex marker in SSN records:
- Find your Local SSA Field Office
- Apply for a replacement SSN card
- Show a current document to prove your identity (i.e., U.S. passport, U.S. driver’s license, or State-issued non-driver identification card)
The agency 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.
- Your SSN record will be updated.
- You may choose to have your SSN card be reissued if it was lost.
- Or, you can keep your current card. SSN cards do not include sex markers.
Having the correct name and gender marker on IDs and records is about more than convenience. It’s also a matter of dignity and safety. The National Center for Transgender Equality learned, through a U.S. Transgender Survey conducted nationwide in 2015, that having incorrect documentation was a significant cause for much of the discrimination and violence trans individuals face daily.
Social Security has modernized their processes to decrease administrative burdens and ensure gender equity in the Social Security Number card application process. Now, millions of transgender, nonbinary, or gender diverse people can update their most common ID documents and records without providing medical documentation. Help us spread the word. Please share this information with friends and family who need it.
We look forward to providing feedback as the agency explores future policy and systems updates to support an “X” sex designation for the SSN card application process.