Personnel Documentation for Transgender Employees

Filed under: Workplace

Change a transitioning employee's name and gender in all personnel and administrative records, including internal and external personnel directories, e-mail address and business cards.

Recognize a transgender employee's preferred name and gender to the greatest possible extent. Develop systems for addressing situations in which an employee's gender presentation does not match legal documents.

Laws regarding changes to gender markers in credit reports and government-issued identification documents vary from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Many jurisdictions require proof of completion of specific medical procedures before personal documents — such as drivers' licenses and birth certificates — can be updated to reflect a person's new gender.[1]

In 2002, the Social Security Administration (SSA) instituted more stringent rules for changing gender markers in SSA records that remain in place today. The SSA requires applicants to provide medical records or other documentation showing that sex reassignment surgery has been completed. The IRS or SSA may contact employers or managers directly if an employee's name or gender does not match in these systems. If an employee or the employer does receive a "no match" letter, resubmit the employee's data without gender. In order to avoid the "no match" process entirely, refrain from reporting the gender marker, which is optional information for SSA number verification purposes.

Health Insurance Records

Due to the often gender-specific nature of medical care, employers should defer to the gender marker that the transgender employee, in consultation with his or her medical provider, prefers to use for insurance purposes. For example, an employee listed as male might be denied coverage for ovarian cancer.

Licensing and Professional Credentials

Certain professionals are required to obtain official certification or licensing in order to do their jobs. For example, pilots in the airline industry must obtain Federal Aviation Administration pilot certification, and some aerospace and defense employees are required to obtain security clearances. Given the overlapping federal, state and local regulatory issues regarding professional licensing, employers should obtain legal counsel to consider how best to address this issue.

Ensure that any health information that must be shared by the employee to attain appropriate certification or licensing will be kept confidential and restricted to the fewest necessary people, and kept within the Human Resources department, if possible.

A diversity executive at American Airlines told HRC that the issue of credentials not matching gender presentation came up when some of the company's pilots transitioned. Because the Federal Aviation Administration regulates pilot certification, the company tried to educate the FAA about the needs of their employees. The company has successfully seen several pilots through the transition and certification process, although employees taking certain medications during transition are prohibited from flying.

More Information

[1]For examples of the range of requirements in New England states regarding personal identification and documentation, see Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, "Transgender Legal Issues in New England,." Available at: