In a fierce governmentwide effort to provide special accommodations to less than one percent of the American population, key federal agencies are implementing significant—and costly—measures to support residents who identify as transgender. This includes the U.S. Census Bureau spending $10 million to research how to best add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on surveys. The Biden administration calls it “critical research” in a recent announcement issued by the White House on Transgender Day of Visibility. It is essential to invest in the research because the data collected by the Census Bureau will help the federal government “better serve the LGBTQI+ community by providing valuable information on their jobs, educational attainment, home ownership, and more,” the White House statement reads.
The administration took the opportunity on Transgender Day of Visibility to also reveal additional measures that other federal agencies will implement to accommodate transgender people, those whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth. For instance, the State Department will allow all American citizens to select an X as their gender marker on U.S. passport applications. This will deliver on the president’s commitment to expand access to accurate identification documents for transgender and non-binary Americans, according to the announcement. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is strong-arming air carriers to “promote the use and acceptance of the X gender marker to ensure more efficient and accurate passenger processing.” The DHS agency created after 9/11 to protect the nation’s transportation system, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), will update its Standard Operating Procedures to remove gender considerations when validating a traveler’s identification at airport security checkpoints. TSA PreCheck and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler Programs will also get updated to include X gender markers to “enhance access for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming travelers.”
The Social Security Administration is eliminating a rule requiring transgender people to provide legal or medical documentation of their identity on official records. “This will significantly improve transgender individuals’ experience in accessing their retirement benefits, obtaining health care, and applying for jobs,” the Biden administration claims. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws, will promote greater equity and inclusion for members of the transgender community by providing the option to select an X gender marker during the initial intake process of filing a discrimination charge. The Department of Education will update federal student aid forms to include gender identity when applying for federal financial aid, which the administration asserts will inform the agency about barriers “transgender and non-binary students face in the financial aid process.”
Other government efforts to accommodate this tiny population include programs to support transgender veterans, mental health services for transgender youths and training for school personnel nationwide to support transgender and non-binary students. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the first federal agency to fly a transgender pride flag above its headquarters, will soon reveal its plan to “best serve LGBTQI+ Americans” based on a comprehensive study on “Measuring Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Orientation” conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency. HHS is also using another “groundbreaking” taxpayer-funded study on how transgender Americans want to see themselves reflected on federal identifications.
In closing, the White House will roll out the welcome mat for transgender visitors by “implementing updates that will improve the White House campus entry process for transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary visitors.” This will be accomplished by modifying the White House Worker and Visitor Entry System (WAVES) to allow an X gender marker option so transgender, gender nonconforming and non-binary folks “can visit the People’s House in a manner that respects and affirms their gender identity.”