Transgender women say the US government is revoking their passports
Transgender women are claiming that the US government is refusing to renew their passports in order to invalidate their true gender identity.
Despite already holding passports which classify them as female, Danni Askini and Janus Rose have been told that they need to supply more proof that they were trans women.
He has also repeatedly attempted to ban trans people from the military, and is gearing up to enable doctors to deny treatment to trans people on religious grounds.
And Askini and Rose believe that they have faced difficulties because of hostility within the State Department – or possibly because of a change in guidance behind the scenes.
Askini told LGBT site Them that she has possessed female identity documents since she transitioned 20 years ago, at the age of 16.
Today I was denied a renewal of my US Passport and told I would need to get a judge to unseal child welfare records from Foster care in order to “prove” my US Citizenship. Despite having had all “Female” ID since 1999, they are now demanding “Proof of Transition” for the 1st time
— Danni Askini (@danniaskini) June 29, 2018
Despite this, when she attempted to renew her passport last month, she was rejected and reportedly told by the US Passport Office that she had “failed to disclose” that she was trans.
The executive director of trans rights group Gender Justice League was told she would have to provide proof that she had transitioned genders, after two decades of being legally recognised as a woman.
“Make no mistake, this was an intentional action by the State Department to withhold recognising my gender,” said Askini, who was eventually granted the temporary two-year passport she needed to leave Seattle after receiving death threats.
Janus Rose, a technology researcher who writes for Vice and The New Yorker among others, faced a similar problem earlier this month.
She said she has had a passport marking her as female since November, and having finally managed to change her legal name, she filled in the forms she needed for a renewal with the new name.
She thought – with good reason – that it would be a simple, quick process. That was until the passport processing centre in South Carolina called her to say she should never have been recognised as a woman.
“She basically told me that even though the government had changed my gender marker in the last year, that was a mistake,” Rose said.
The medical documentation – a letter signed by a nurse at Rose’s clinic – was invalid, according to the official, despite the letter being “something my clinic has been using as a boilerplate for years for so many people,” Rose said.
“The clinic says I’m the first person to get a rejection.”
I’ve been hearing horror stories about the gov’t refusing to renew trans people’s passports and demanding they “re-verify” their gender, so i included a copy of my doctors letter just in case. Apparently that wasn’t enough. They now want me to redraft w/ diff language. ♀️
— ✨ Janus Rose ✨ (@zenalbatross) July 25, 2018
She added: “It seems pretty clear that even if the policy hasn’t changed, something has changed in terms of guidance on how to enforce this — because it’s being enforced differently now.”
All the State Department officially requires for a change in legal gender is an ID which “resembles your current appearance,” a recent passport photo, documentation if you have changed your legal name and a “medical certification that indicates you are in the process of or have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.”
In response to requests for comment, a State Department official said: “Every applicant who applies for a U.S. passport undergoes extensive vetting of their identity, claim to U.S. citizenship and entitlement to a passport.
“When a passport applicant presents a certification from a medical physician stating that the applicant has undergone or is receiving appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, a new passport will be issued with an updated gender marker.
“Sexual reassignment surgery is not a prerequisite for updating the gender marker in a passport and documents proving sexual reassignment surgery are not required.”
Rose was frustrated because of the relative ease with which cisgender people are able to get a new official name.
“I spoke to someone the other day, a cis person, who had their legal name changed and it was fine,” she said.
“There was no asking for additional documentation or proof. She literally did the same thing just the other day.
“That’s what this is about. A cis person can go in and make this simple change, and a trans person cannot.”
Both Askini and Rose accused the Trump administration of deliberately making life difficult for trans people seeking to acquire a simple passport renewal.
Askini, who has long publicly campaigned for trans rights, said: “I believe that the Trump Administration or someone in the Seattle Passport Office has targeted me politically and politicised the process for obtaining passports.
“Their actions and statements are NOT consistent with the actual letter of the code related to trans people.”
Rose agreed, saying: “It seems like they’re applying a different standard of enforcement to these cases now. I’ve never heard of a person having a problem changing their name on a passport until now.
“I think there’s an internal policy change to make it as difficult as possible for trans people. The goal is to create friction.
“They can’t change all these laws right away, but they can make it really hard.”
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