Social Security changes gender identity rules

Today marks an important victory for the transgender community, even though it may appear to be a small paperwork technicality, reports “The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that it is now much easier for trans people to change their gender identity on their Social Security records.images-2 All that will now be required, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality, is for individuals to submit government-issued documentation reflecting a gender change, or a certification from a physician confirming they have undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.

“This is a significant departure from the previous policy, which required documentation of complete sex reassignment surgery. Many trans people never undergo such procedures, either because they are too expensive, because they do not want to lose their procreative ability, or because it simply isn’t an important change for them to make to find authenticity in their identities. The SSA change eliminates this high standard for trans people to obtain the appropriate documentation for the gender that reflects how they live their daily lives.

“Though Social Security cards do not display gender, the SSA does maintain that information as data, and it can impact other governmental programs. For example, individuals seeking coverage under Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental Security Income, or other public benefits could face complications if their gender markers do not match from form to form and identification to identification. In addition to an invasion of their privacy, the discordance could even lead to a denial of benefits. The new change will eliminate the obstacles trans people can face to access protections they often need because of other forms of discrimination they otherwise experience in society.”


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Israel debates gender on identification cards

A new law being proposed in Israel’s Knesset seeks to get rid of the gender category on the country’s identity cards, reports the Jewish Telegraph Agency. “Tamar Zandberg of the Meretz Party introduced the bill this past Monday, at the start of international LGBTQ month. Zandberg explained, “There is a minority that experiences an incongruity between gender and biological sex, and those who want to change their sex in the registry but experience difficulty with Interior Ministry bureaucrats, the Health Ministry and the establishment.”images-3

“Zandberg cited as precedent Israel’s removal of the nationality category from identification cards. Before 2005, ID cards included a category with the Hebrew word l’ohm, which is translated as nationality, but was more about ethnicity, not citizenship. The most common ethnicities were Jewish, Arab, Druze, Circassian. While it seems like something of a technical issue, there have been legal dust-ups over the categories. In 2002, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that a Reform convert qualified to have Jewish on their identity card, despite the fact that the chief rabbinate does not recognize Reform conversions. The Sephardic Orthodox Shas party subsequently backed the removal of the whole category.

“Still, there is little international precedent for removing the category of gender, though that seems to be changing. Nepal, Australia and New Zealand currently have options for gender-neutral documentation, while two British lawmakers joined a petition asking the government to allow for gender-neutral IDs. In the United States, San Francisco eliminated gender from city-issued IDs; a similar measure is slated to be enacted in late 2013 in Los Angeles.”

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Binoculars that can recognize you

It was only a matter of time: the marriage of facial recognition software and digital telescopy. Now the U.S. Navy is talking about binoculars that can identify people.

Take a close look, because the next generation of military binoculars could be doing more than just letting sailors and soldiers see from far away, reports Wired Danger Room. “The Navy now wants binoculars that can scan and recognize your face from 650 feet away.

“That’s according to a Jan. 16 contract announcement from the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which is seeking a “Wireless 3D Binocular Face Recognition System.’ imgresDuring a testing period of 15 months, the plan is to improve “stand-off identification of uncooperative subjects” during daylight, using binoculars equipped with scanners that can read your mug from “100 to 200 meters” away, or about 328 to 650 feet. After scanning your mug, the binoculars then transmit the data to a database over a wireless network, where the data is then analyzed to determine a person’s identity. The no-bid contract, for an unspecified amount of money, went to California biometrics firm StereoVision Imaging. Continue reading “Binoculars that can recognize you”