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Friday, April 13, 2012

Victory for Trans Immigration Documents and Marriage Benefits Via National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Reposted From National Center of Transgender Equality

NCTE and Immigration Equality Applaud President Obama for Taking Important Action
Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a Policy Memorandum revising the treatment of gender designations for transgender people on their immigration documents. The new guidance also make clear that if a couple has married as a different-sex couple under state law, the federal government will not deny that recognition regardless of a person’s prior or subsequent gender transition.
The revisions will be updated in the Adjudicator’s Field Manual, a guide binding all USCIS staff overseeing immigration procedures.
NCTE Policy Counsel Harper Jean Tobin said, “Today’s announcement is another example of the Obama Administration’s long-term commitment to equality. These revisions mean that trans people and their families can obtain accurate identification while maintaining their privacy. It’ll also reduces bureaucratic delays, intrusive questions, and wrongful denials of immigration benefits.”
Significantly, the gender designation change is modeled after the U.S. State Department’s updated passport policy, which does not require sex reassignment surgery. “This Guidance is an important step forward for transgender immigrants and their families,” said Victoria Neilson, legal director for Immigration Equality. “It brings USCIS in line with DOS in its guidance for updating gender markers on identity documents – no longer requiring any specific surgery, but instead allowing a doctor to certify the individual’s gender."
NCTE has been working with Immigration Equality to advance these urgently needed policies, part of our comprehensive agenda for the fair treatment of transgender immigrants. Neilson added, “The memo affirms existing law and precedents, and recognizes that if a marriage is considered valid and opposite sex under state law, it is valid for immigration purposes.”
“And while these two revisions aid trans immigrants, U.S. Citizens who marry immigrants, they only highlight the need to eliminate the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act,” said Tobin.
For specific questions about taking advantage of this guidance, please contact Immigration Equality here.
For more information or to speak with Harper Jean Tobin or Victoria Neilson, please contact Vincent Paolo Villano at 202-631-9640 / vvillano@transequality.orgor Steve Ralls at 202-347-7007 / sralls@immigrationequality.org