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Changing my documented gender with the Department of Defense

Commentary: Trans Progressive

During the past few years I’ve been changing my documented gender at various government agencies. I’ve obtained a court ordered change of documented gender with the state of California and used that court order to obtain a new birth certificate indicating I was born female. I also have provided required documents and followed specified procedures for changing my recorded gender with the Department of State (for a passport), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Social Security Administration.

The one last government agency that still recorded my gender as male was the Department of Defense (DOD). But, as of April 12, that changed. My recorded gender with the DOD is now female.

OutServe-SLDN and I are announcing today, May 16, that I’ve changed my documented gender with the Department of Defense. We’ve together documented which documents are required to change one’s electronic gender marker in the DOD’s databases, and the procedures and service specific addresses for submitting those documents to the four DOD military services. In a very direct way, documenting and publishing procedures will give other trans military retirees a template for how to accomplish changing their own DOD documented gender.

Documenting the DOD specific procedures have also put a spotlight on how different the required documents and procedures are for changing one’s recorded gender for the State Department, VA, Social Security Administration and DOD. The State Department and VA, in accordance with procedures found in Volume 7 of the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual, require a letter which “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” will result in the issuance of a full validity U.S. passport or change of one’s recorded gender in the VA’s databases.

The DOD’s requirements are more onerous. They require all of the following documents to change one’s recorded gender:

1. Changed birth certificate (original or notarized copy)

2. Court order: name change document (original or notarized copy)

3. Notarized letter indicating surgical transition letter

4. Court order: change of gender (original or notarized copy)

5. Copy of updated Social Security Card or notarized copy of current Social Security Benefits indicating changed name and SSN

6. Copy of driver’s license, state-issued ID card, or passport with new name and gender indicated

The following additional document is a required document if one has a spouse that is enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS):

7. Notarized letter from the retired servicemember’s spouse indicating that he or she understands that after the DOD documents the gender change they will lose their Tricare coverage.

Considering that only approximately half the states in the Union allow changes to birth certificates to change one’s gender, the DOD policy on changing a veteran’s recorded gender is out of reach of a large number of trans former servicemembers.

In publicly documenting how onerous the current DOD’s policy is for changing recorded gender, I know I hope that the spotlight will bring pressure to bear on the DOD to change their policy.

And, changing one’s recorded name and/or gender at the DOD won’t result in being able to obtain an updated DD214 – a servicemember’s Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. According to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records’ Applicant’s Guide To Applying To The Army Board For Correction Of Military Records:

“If you have a name, gender, or social security number (SSN) change after discharge from the military, even if it is court ordered, the name and gender on your military records will not be changed since they are historical documents which record facts during the time you served in the military. If you need a certificate to show your current name or gender and that you served in the military under another, you can request such from the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records …”

Perhaps putting a spotlight on how trans veterans aren’t able to update their DD214’s to show their changed name and DOD recorded gender will also put a spotlight on how that policy should change too.

Documenting the current DOD process to change one’s recorded gender, though, is the first step toward changing DOD policies that harm trans servicemembers and veterans.

I’ll be working with OutServe-SLDN into the future to do just that.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=37063

Posted by on May 16, 2013. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Trans Progressive. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

20 Comments for “Changing my documented gender with the Department of Defense”

  1. Via @LGBTWeekly: Changing my documented gender with the Department of Defense http://t.co/YUJvIxhNIf #trans #lgbt

  2. RT @AutumnSandeen: Thanks to @allysonrobinson, @ZekeStokes, David McKean, & @BrynnTannehill for their help/support throughout. http://t.co/lvyUjFxetl #trans

  3. RT @AutumnSandeen: Thanks to @allysonrobinson, @ZekeStokes, David McKean, & @BrynnTannehill for their help/support throughout. http://t.co/lvyUjFxetl #trans

  4. A Woman, Period

    Sorry, but no, your change of birth certificate does not indicate that you were born female. It merely indicates a fiction. Females don’t have penises.

    • Susan Seditious

      Ms. B, I presume? Your views are intriguing – please link me to your blog that I may be enlightened further.

      • A Woman, Period

        Again, no, I am not Cathy Brennan. And it appears that I cannot post a link to my blog here. Just do a Google for “Just Jennifer” and you should find it.

  5. A Woman, Period

    Actually, only about two or three states don’t allow some change of birth certificate after sex reassignment surgery. I don’t know of any that actually, legally, allow a change without actual SRS, as opposed to, oh, say, just castration. One might file a fraudulent petition, and avoid admitting that is all one has had, but that is not a legal basis for change of sex on a birth certificate, and in any case, it does not change the facts of one’s birth.

    • Three, half…hey…it was close in the world of transmath where the logic is so fuzzy that words are so often used as a basis to cross a street to commence a violent response (or more recently, to damage property belonging to a group that has a different belief system).

      I’m going to guess that entities such as DoD would potentially be more willing to modify records if you didn’t have people engaging in acts of legal fiction. Until those fictions cease, I have no qualms whatsoever with entities not re-issuing historical artifacts in a manner that rewrites history.

  6. The DOD must be insane, they have an uncontrollable problem with sexual assault on female service members as it is. This is all in preparation for allowing Tee-Gees to serve openly so they can get assaulted also.
    “Take it like a Real Woman Jack”.


  7. Patricia Malone

    From the way this reads things have actually changed for the worst. When I changed my retired USAF ID card in 1986 all I did was go into the personnel office at the nearest facility, show my old id, court ordered name change, and letter from my therapist.

    The only bump was that the clerk said “I’m sorry mam. Your husband is going to have to come in himself”. That required a few words of explanation.

    All official mail comes in the right name. The VA here (Portland) is fine with my transition. There seem to be quite a few of us in the area.

    • Patricia Malone

      Oh, this was all pre-op.

    • Yes. Things have changed, and I would agree the changes aren’t for the better.

      Highlighting the how things have changed now gives us trans activists and our community allies the ability to press for a revised process that mirrors the VA’s and State Department’s policies on changing one’s recorded gender.

  8. Here’s hoping @MHarrisPerry/@MHPshow takes note of @buzzfeed article on #trans DOD haps. http://t.co/bv4SwTBVFy ; http://t.co/QFHTwkMKeU

  9. Commentary, #Trans #Progressive by @AutumnSandeen: Changing my documented gender with the @Deptofdefense http://t.co/w1av1voEEc #LGBT

  10. Elizabeth Johnson

    When I retired in 2008, I had my DEERS record changed to reflect a name, SSN and gender change to Female. I did not have any problems getting a new DD-214. I ran into a problem and had to use the BCMR to over ride any obstacles. The problem was NOT related to gender but to Domestic Violence and new identities. Even though the Personnel manual laid everything out, a legal person at the NPRC said no to any changes, So Headquarters Personnel Command elected to do an expedited BCMR to order the changes. That way NO ONE could argue with it. Otherwise I had no problems.

    What is really cool or different my husband is a veteran and a transgender female too. We had NO problems getting her dependent ID.

    As far as the VA Hospital I never had any problems with anything. I only ran across one person that did. But when I retired I got Tricare and no problems there either.

  11. Now there seems to be many coming out of the woodwork who have changed their documentation over well before Sandeen did.
    As usual Sandeen is grandstanding and taking the credit for what others have done decades before.


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