US: Trans veterans have gender and name information updated on discharge documents

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Two trans US veterans have had their names and genders updated on their discharge documents for the first time.

The two veterans, named as Jennifer and Nicolas, can now receive relevant veterans benefits under their acquired gender. A discharge or release certificate is necessary to buy a home or apply for some jobs in which they need to be able to prove their veteran status. In the past this meant trans veterans would encounter problems when their certificates did not match their current status.

In a statement from the ACLU Jennifer, an Army Sergeant Major who served for 29 years, said: “This is about much more than a change on a piece of paper. This is about the relief of knowing that when I apply for a job, or a home loan, or anything where my veteran status is relevant, I can do it as myself.

“This small change in a personnel document means a huge change for veterans like me. I served to protect American principles, and the principles of justice and equality have been served by this decision.”

The Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA law school, estimates that 134,300 veterans struggle to access benefits or face invasive questions over their trans status.

In 2013, Chelsea Manning won the right to have her name changed, but not to be recognised as female or receive any medical transition care.

Up until very recently, the military considered trans people to have “congenital or developmental defect” but changes to the law may have created a loophole, allowing trans people to serve.