At the federal level, it is possible to change sex on both your Social Security card and United States passport documents. The policies currently in effect require only a physician or psychiatrist’s attestation of “appropriate clinical treatment” (Social Security Administration) or “gender-related care” (U.S. passports).
In both cases, the terminology of gender is used in direct replacement of sex. There is no explanation offered in either policy for why the terms are used interchangeably, with gender given the power to change sex. This form of semantic sloppiness should be considered unacceptable in such important, legally binding policies.
Here are the relevant details and legal sources, including links and my red text highlighting the conflation of the terms sex and gender:
Passports (June 2010)
U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7
Consular Affairs; 7 FAM 1300 APPENDIX M: GENDER CHANGE
b. Medical Certification Accepted for Gender Change/Transition.
(1) A full validity U.S. passport will be issued reflecting a new gender upon presentation of a signed original statement, on office letterhead, from a licensed physician who has treated the applicant for his/her gender-related care or reviewed and evaluated the gender-related medical history of the applicant.
NOTE: Such licensed physicians include Medical Doctors (M.D.) and Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.). The physicians may specialize in various medical fields, including, but not limited to, internists, endocrinologists, gynecologists, urologists, surgeons, psychiatrists, pediatricians, and family practitioners.
Statements from persons who are not licensed physicians, such as psychologists, nurse practitioners, health practitioners, chiropractors, and pharmacists, are not acceptable.
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Autumn Sandeen on the change: The Prep Work I’m Doing To Get A Passport Under New State Department Rules
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, New State Department Policy on Passport Gender Change
Social Security (June 2013)
From the Program Operations Manual System (POMS), RM 10212.200 – Changing Numident Data for Reasons other than Name Change
|For this update||Obtain this supporting documentation and follow any additional instructions|
|Sex field||Accept any of the following:
NOTE: Do not accept passports with less than ten years of validity.;
NOTE: See RM 10212.200C in this section for a sample letter from a licensed physician that includes all required information to certify to the individual’s gender change.
IMPORTANT: Surgery is no longer required to change the sex field on the Numident. However, if an individual presents an original or certified letter from a physician stating the individual has undergone sexual reassignment surgery, accept it as evidence to change the sex field when it meets the requirements in GN 00301.030 and contains sufficient biographical data (e.g., name, date of birth) to clearly identify the individual.
NOTE: In some cases an individual’s sex may impact eligibility for benefits dependent upon spousal relationships. To make title II entitlement or title XVI eligibility determinations dependent upon marriage, follow the instructions in GN 00305.005B. Do not use sex field data on SSA records to make marital status determinations.
RELATED NEWS STORIES:
Trans Equality Fact Sheet