The Situation at the Federal Level

Since 2010, the Obama Administration has modified some federal policies in order to improve the lives of transgender individuals across this country. While there is still much more work to be done, some of the progress includes:

• Housing: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) clarified its policies to include discrimination against transgender individuals as an enumerated violation of the Fair Housing Act. HUD also ensured that all of its core programs, including public housing, rental vouchers, and home financing, would be open to anyone who needs them, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

• Passports: The Department of State updated its policy on passports and certificate of foreign births to allow transgender individuals to receive a new document that reflects their gender. The policy was further updated in 2011 to affirm that individuals wishing to change their gender marker on a passport only need a document from a physician stating that they have undergone a “medically appropriate” procedure to change genders, thus standardizing and streamlining the entire process.

• Veterans: The Veterans Administration issued a directive in June 2011 requiring all its facilities to provide respectful, confidential health care to transgender veterans, including providing hormones and mental health care. The directive requires all VA staff to provide care to transgender patients “without discrimination in a manner consistent with care and management of all Veteran patients.”

• Employment: In May 2011, the head of the Office of Personnel and Management issued a memorandum to all department and agency heads specifically spelling out the federal government’s guidelines regarding the treatment of transgender employees. The memo stated that it is “the policy of the Federal Government to treat all of its employees with dignity and respect and to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination.”