The Biden administration will now allow immigrants applying for benefits through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to mark their preferred gender identity without needing their other documentation to match.
In a press release Friday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said effective immediately, the agency was updating its policy to accept “the self-identified gender marker for individuals requesting immigration benefits.”
“The gender marker they select does not need to match the gender marker indicated on their supporting documentation,” the release said. “The update also clarifies that people requesting benefits do not need to submit proof of their gender identity when submitting a request to change their gender marker, except for those submitting Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.”
Currently, the only gender markers available are “Male” or “Female,” but DHS said it is working on options to include an additional gender marker (“X”) for another or unspecified gender identity.
“In April 2021, DHS published a Request for Public Input seeking the public’s feedback on barriers to USCIS benefits and services. Responses to this request indicated that the evidentiary requirements associated with gender marker changes created barriers for individuals requesting immigration benefits,” the press release said.
“Through subsequent listening sessions with DHS, stakeholders have further highlighted how this policy change will remove barriers and reduce burdens for applicants and petitioners, in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans. In addition, this furthers DHS efforts under Executive Order 13988, Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, and Executive Order 14091, Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”
The announcement came the same day the White House condemned “MAGA extremists” in a statement from President Biden in honor of “Transgender Day of Visibility.”
“Transgender Americans deserve to be safe and supported in every community – but today, across our country, MAGA extremists are advancing hundreds of hateful and extreme state laws that target transgender kids and their families,” Biden said in a written statement. “No one should have to be brave just to be themselves.”
“Let me be clear: These attacks are un-American and must end. The bullying, discrimination, and political attacks that trans kids face have exacerbated our national mental health crisis,” he continued. “More than half of transgender youth say they have seriously considered suicide. Loving parents are terrified for their children’s futures.”
The White House directed any transgender young person who needs help to call 988 to reach the nationwide suicide prevention and crisis hotline and press “3” to speak with a counselor specifically trained to support LGBTQI+ youth. “My Administration will never quit fighting to end discrimination, to stand against these unjust state laws, and to guarantee everyone the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are,” Biden said. “We’ll never stop working to create a world where everyone can live without fear; where parents, teachers, and whole communities come together to support kids, no matter how they identify; and every child is surrounded by compassion and love.”
“I want every member of the trans community to know that we see you. You’re each made in the image of God, and deserve love, dignity, and respect,” the president added. “You make America stronger, and we’re with you.”
His comments also come on the heels of a Nashville shooting where a 28-year-old transgender person opened fire in a Christian school, killing six people, including three children. Law enforcement killed the suspect.
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