Transgender Rights and Resources
Since the election, a lot of concerns have been coming up for the transgender people. I have put together some resources and information below so that you can have the best possible information when you make any decisions. Obviously right now we do not know anything for sure. I don’t want to perpetuate panic but at the same time, people need information on the best ways to protect themselves. Everyone needs to make the decision that is best for them in their own circumstances.
I am going to focus on the practical concerns of documents and health insurance.
Please feel free to comment or email me if you have anything to add to this post.
In California, the go to for information on legal documents is The Transgender Law Center. Here is the link to their page with detailed information about this topic. Here is their extensive guide.
Here is my quick summary:
In 2013 Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1121 which made it easier to get documents changed in CA. Full implementation occurred in July 2014. So with the same Governor in office and statements issued both from him and the Legislature that assert that they will protect Californians, at this time there is no indication that this law will change and you should still be able to change your name and gender in CA fairly easily.
It is important to note that you do not currently need a court ordered gender change to change your California driver’s license, social security card, or U.S. passport. You also no longer need a court order to have a new California birth certificate issued reflecting a change of gender.
You DO need a court order for a change of name.
For information on other states and their rules, The National Center For Transgender Equality has an awesome site here. You can click on any state to get additional information including some local advocacy partners.
In states with Republican Governors, there may be a backlash against gains for transgender people and those laws may be at risk so please check in with your local transgender advocacy projects.
Social security cards and passports are Federal documents and as such may have more risk for change.
Social Security Cards
National Center For Transgender Equality also has a great fact sheet on changing your gender for Social Security. Right now it is considered a relatively easy process but we have no idea at this time if this might change and become more challenging in the future so if this is an important change for you, it should be done as soon as possible.
In 2010 the State Department updated its policy to make it easy for transgender people to obtain a passport that has their correct name and gender identity. This may be an area that is targeted and changed moving forward.
If you believe you may want to leave the country at some point this is a very important process to complete as soon as possible.
Here is information from the National Center for Transgender Equality on passports.
The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) has ordered California’s health plans to remove blanket exclusions of coverage based on gender identity or gender expression. This was done to comply with the California Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act, passed in 2005. These rules did not apply to self-insured plans. Many larger businesses have “self-insured” plans governed by ERISA, a federal law that preempts state nondiscrimination protections.
Essentially what this means is that those who got transgender health coverage added because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) risk losing it if the ACA is repealed.
However, many in California will continue to have transgender health care coverage under private insurance plans.
With Medi-Cal is more complicated. Many people got on Medi-Cal through the Medicaid expansion in the ACA. Many others also got private health insurance because of the ACA subsidies to buy private insurance. Those aspects are at risk if the ACA is repealed. So people will lose their entire health care plans not just transgender-specific aspects.
CA law does still require coverage of transgender health but it could get more challenging if cities lose funding for public health.
Health Insurance-Other States
If the Affordable Care Act is repealed then Rule 1557, which removed trans health exclusions federally, will be gone. If you live in a state that did not protect transgender health care prior to the ACA there is every reason to believe that coverage can be gone by the beginning of 2018. Also, those who got coverage through the Medicaid expansion will also most likely lose their healthcare coverage if/when ACA is repealed. And we know repeal of the ACA is the top of the list of legislative goals for the Republicans. The other scenario I have heard is that Medicaid expansion may stay but become much more restrictive depending on the state. Vice President Elect Pence did do a Medicaid expansion in his state so we just don’t know how this will play out.
Resources for Further information
Transgender Law Center-CA Specific
Southern Poverty Law Center is collecting reports of incidents of violence and intimidation. They advise reporting to local police first but they are tracking the violence. The link to that is here
US: (877) 565-8860 Canada: (877) 330-6366
Trans Lifeline is a non-profit dedicated to the well-being of transgender people. It is a hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people.
Lambda Legal resource guide on Documents
CA Courts Site Reference for further CA legal document questions.