SSA Updates Guidance Regarding Transgender Individuals

Empire Justice Center July 31, 2022

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued guidance for processing requests for Social Security numbers (SSNs) by transgender individuals. According to a press release issued on March 31, 2022, by Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi, the agency anticipates that SSA will allow people to self-select their sex on SSNs application in the fall of 2022. SSA’s systems, however, do not accommodate a sex designation other than M or F. Therefore, applications for original SSNs still must include a binary designation (M or F). The agency is exploring possible future policy and systems updates to support an “X” sex designation for the SSN card application process.


In the meantime, people who want to update their sex markers will need to apply for replacement SSN cards, even though SSN cards do not include sex markers. They will still need to show a current document to prove their identity, but they will no longer need to provide medical or legal documentation of their sex designation once the policy change becomes effective.  Emergency Message (EM)-22005 provides instructions for acceptance of evidentiary documents with a non-binary or unspecified sex designation, such as an X, instead of M for male and F for female in requests for Social Security numbers (SSNs). According to the EM, documents should not be rejected solely because of a non-binary or unspecified sex designation.


In late January 2022, SSA also issued POMS GN 00203.008 – Interviewing Transgender Individuals. In addition to providing general background on transgender identity and gender transition, the POMS reminds interviewers to “provide sensitive service to all individuals, and treat them with dignity and respect.” Interviewers should protect confidentiality of the individual; ask only questions necessary to complete the transaction; use the name and pronouns appropriate to the individual’s self-identified gender, even if the person has not changed his or her name or updated his or her records; and be aware that the individual’s gender transition is a personal matter. Questions or comments regarding a person’s medical treatment and appearance are inappropriate.