Obama Admin Issues Memo on Last Day Allowing Transgender Immigrants to Change Gender on Docs

Photo Credit: Benjamin Earwicker

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration used its last day in office to issue a memo allowing male immigrants who identify as female, and vice versa, to change their gender on official documents.

The office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), under the Department of Homeland Security, released the memo on Jan. 19, advising of revisions to the field manual pertaining to the “procedures and requirements to change the gender designation on a USCIS-issued document.”

“Individuals may request a change in the gender reflected on a USCIS-issued document using the standard USCIS form for requesting the desired document,” it outlines.

USCIS will then “issue an initial or amended document reflecting the changed gender designation” if the person submits a court order showing that they have been granted the right to be recognized as the opposite sex, an amended birth certificate, passport or driver’s license, or a letter from a health care professional “certifying that the requested gender designation is consistent with the individual’s gender identity.”

Sex change operations or other medical procedures are not necessary to be granted the amended document, but the office may also request additional documentation as proof of the person’s change in gender identity. The requester may also only identify as either male or female, and not some other combination or neither.

“USCIS-issued documents that display a gender or sex identifier are limited to indicating only female or male,” it advises. “Consequently, requests for USCIS-issued documents reflecting a change of gender designation must indicate either female or male as the new gender.”

Some have expressed concern over the issued memo, including Dan Cadman of the Center for Immigration Studies.

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“Both the timing and method of issuing the change reflect careful forethought—choosing the last day of the Obama administration’s reign over the executive branch to issue the memo cannot have been an accident,” he wrote in a post on the matter.

“What’s more, the agency chose to issue this as a ‘policy memorandum’ instead of a regulatory change, which surely would have been more appropriate, given its scope. It could even be argued that by issuing the policy as a memorandum, the agency has (once again) violated the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act,” Cadman said.

“But by avoiding the regulatory process, the Obama administration no doubt hoped to slip a radical policy change under the radar of the Trump administration, which had clearly announced that it was going to freeze all proposed regulatory changes pending review.”

As previously reported, under the threat of losing funding, the Obama administration likewise issued directives last year requiring public schools to allow those who identify as the opposite sex to use the restroom that corresponds with their “internal sense of gender.” It also mandated that federally-funded hospitals “treat individuals consistent with their gender identity.”

Both moves resulted in lawsuits, and both directives were halted in federal court.

“Plaintiffs will be forced to either violate their religious beliefs or maintain their current policies which seem to be in direct conflict with the rule and risk the severe consequences of enforcement,” Judge Reed O’Connor declared in light of a legal challenge from physicians of faith who would otherwise be required to comply with the hospital rule.

O’Connor also granted an injunction against the administration’s “transgender” restroom use policy, suggesting that the government had incorrectly interpreted federal law.

“It cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex … following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students as determined at their birth,” he wrote.

“Without question, permitting educational institutions to provide separate housing to male and female students, and separate educational instruction concerning human sexuality, was to protect students’ personal privacy, or discussion of their personal privacy, while in the presence of members of the opposite biological sex.”

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