"This is a tremendous victory for our community," said Ilona Turner, legal director of the Transgender Law Center, in a statement. "The Social Security Administration was one of the last agencies to hold onto an outdated, one-size-fits-all standard for gender change. Transgender people will now be able to change all their federal documents with a simple letter from their doctor recognizing that they have undergone the appropriate treatment for them."
The SSA had previously required documentation of sex reassignment surgery, which the center said wasn't in line with the "current medical consensus that surgery is not appropriate or necessary for every transgender person to transition."
Kia Anderson, a SSA spokeswoman, said the agency has worked with advocacy groups on the issue, but mainly made the change "to make our policy more consistent across government."
Other agencies in the federal government, including the State Department, already have policies like the SSA's new one.
The new policy allows for a gender change to be made in a person's SSA records following the submission of a doctor's letter, a passport, a birth certificate or a court order showing the correct gender.