The Social Security Administration (SSA) has quietly removed some of the historic barriers, such as doctor’s notes, to updating an individual’s sex marker on their social security record. The SSA’s program operation manual system (POMS) has been updated, effective as of September 23rd, and now states that “no evidence is required to change the sex field on the NUMIDENT. Accept the sex as indicated by the number holder or proper applicant.” NUMIDENT or “Numerical Identification System” is the SSA’s computer database which contains social security numbers and information about the person associated with that number. The new instructions further state that upon a request for a binary (male/female) change the worker 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.”
The change to SSA policy comes after the Biden Administration released a Fact Sheet on March 31, 2022, which is Transgender Day of Visibility, noting that the SSA would be making such a change in “Fall of 2022.” Now that the change has gone into effect, Americans will have improved access to healthcare, employment, and retirement benefits by having a social security record which accurately reflect their gender identity.
Unfortunately, the SSA’s record system still does not allow for a non-binary gender marker, such as an “X.” In its March 2022 press release the Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Kilolo Kijakazi, stated that “the agency is exploring possible future policy and systems updates to support an X gender marker for the SSN card application process.”