On October 19, Kilolo Kijakazi, the acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration, announced that the agency will now offer people the choice "to self-select" their sex on their Social Security number record. While those applying to update their sex marker must still provide proof of identity, they don't need to provide any evidence of their purported sex designation.
The SSA was formed in 1935 and tasked with administering "the old-age, survivors, and disability insurance program under title II and the supplemental security income program under title XVI." Notwithstanding its straightforward mandate, the SSA has involved itself in the debate over the immutability of sex.
Kilolo Kijakazi, initially appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as deputy commissioner for retirement and disability policy at the SSA, is now running the agency.
On Wednesday, she stated that the "Social Security Administration's Equity Action Plan includes a commitment to decrease administrative burdens and ensure people who identify as gender diverse or transgender have options in the Social Security Number card application process."
Kijakazi noted that the new policy "allows people to self-select their sex in our records without needing to provide documentation of their sex designation."
If the identity documents provided (e.g., passport or state-issued driver's license) indicate a sex other than the one requested in the update, then the requested marker will still be granted.
The SSA indicated that at present, the SSA's record systems "are unable to include a non-binary or unspecified sex designation. The agency is exploring possible future policy and systems update to support an 'X' sex designation for the SSN card application process."
"X" would account for any one of the many so-called genders that have been manufactured in recent years.
The SSA has previously derived substantial insights into various demographic characteristics particular to the two sexes. Now that men can apply to update their sex marker and state they are women or vice versa, the SSA's gendered analysis will likely be muddled. It is presently unclear how great an impact this new policy will have on the accuracy of the SSA's future studies.
The SSA's Equity Action Plan referenced by Kijakazi is the result of Biden's January 2021 executive order 13985, entitled "Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government."
In the order, Biden called for a "whole-of-government equity agenda."
The heads of each federal agency were compelled to reevaluate their programs and policies and look for ways to address "systematic barriers."
Extra to its new policy severing biological sex from sexual identity as a means to decrease "burdens for people who identify as gender diverse or transgender," the SSA also increased its collection of racial data; ensured "equitable access for unrepresented claimants in the disability application process"; and made it easier for certain race-based organizations to access grant programs.
The SSA's policy changes mirror those recently implemented in other federal agencies.
On March 31, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced that his agency, too, would enact measures as part of the "whole-of-government approach to promote equity and inclusion in all our programs and processes."
The DHS was created after the September 11, 2001, Islamist attacks on America and tasked with "striving to prevent future attacks against the United States and our allies."
To promote so-called equity, the DHS indicated it would: implement new non-gender-based screening technology; reduce pat-downs; and enable documentation to reflect an "X" option for persons who deny being either a man or a woman.
Like the DHS and the SSA, the U.S. State Department has similarly permitted Americans to "select male (M), female (F), or unspecified or another gender identity (X)" as their gender marker on U.S. passport books, emergency passports, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.
The State Department noted, "You do not need to provide any documentation (medical or other) to change your gender, even if the gender you select on the application does not match the gender on your previous passport or other documents."
Although the Department of Energy doesn't have a critically important and widely popular identification card to augment, it announced last month that it would establish "a new policy for gender identity and gender transition to support transgender and nonbinary colleagues," as well as reestablish a stand-alone office for "Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility."
Reuters reported in June that 0.5% of all U.S. adults (1.3 million) and 1.4% of youth ages 13-17 (300,000) identify as "transgender." These two groups together constitute 0.004% of the U.S. population.