When you think of key documents, what comes to mind? For most people, it’s birth certificates, driver’s licenses and banking information.
Most people can count on their financial institutions to get their name and information correct. But that isn’t true for many transgender individuals. Just like everyone else, they should feel comfortable knowing their bank is going to support their identity, just like it does for cisgender members.
It’s time for all financial institutions to refer to trans folks by their chosen name.
What is a chosen name?
Everyone is born into a name their parents choose. When transgender individuals socially transition, they’ll usually choose a different name that better fits their identity.
Always use a transgender person’s chosen names and pronouns. Think of it like this: If you can change to calling one of your friends by a nickname when they don’t like their given name, you can change to properly address a transgender person.
When trans people choose a different name, they’ll usually refer to their birth name as their “dead name.” Insisting on using a trans person’s dead name is a form of discrimination. It shows lack of acceptance for their identity and refusal to refer to them correctly.
Sometimes deadnaming someone is an accident. If this happens, simply correct yourself and move on without drawing too much attention to it.
What is the name change process like?
The exact steps required in a name and gender marker change depend on the state. Most of the time, a state requires a court order to change name and gender markers on identifying documents.
Once you get that court order, you then have to go to all of your accounts and update the information. What gets even more complicated is that some institutions require you to have core documents like your birth certificate to get an ID changed. With each change, you have to show documentation of the change.
Some states require you to bring proof of gender reassignment surgery, or documentation from doctors and therapists that you had to be seeing for a year before the hearing.
Because of these kinds of hostile laws, some transgender folks hire an attorney to represent them. If their case gets denied, they then have the choice to appeal the decision, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Non-binary people especially face discrimination in seeking correct documents. Many computer systems in core institutions, such as Social Security, only allow the option of “male” and “female” gender selection. That means even if gender expansive folks get court orders, they may never get correct documentation.
Facing high costs and discrimination
Several obstacles block some trans people from getting name and gender marker changes.
One of the most common obstacles is the cost. Even without legal representation, simply filing the request can cost several hundred dollars.
Others are afraid of discrimination during the legal transitioning process.
Many non-binary people in particular don’t update their information because they believe their state doesn’t have a way to reflect their gender identity.
Getting outed at the bank
A survey conducted by The National Center for Transgender Equality found that only one-fifth of folks who’ve started transitioning have accurate records and IDs. The same survey found one-third of those people haven’t updated any of their records.
Having an ID that doesn’t match your gender presentation can impact your entire life. Without correct documents, transgender people face employment, housing and benefit denial, as well as serious harassment.
Many financial institutions require you to open an account under a name that matches your ID, even if you’ve transitioned socially or medically. Choosing a bank is a big deal — you’re trusting an institution with your money. You should feel certain it’ll take care of you. If you can’t trust your bank to address you correctly, why would you want to stay?
Billie Simmons, Daylight’s co-founder and COO, says, for her, this disconnect “makes me out myself multiple times as trans throughout the process, opening me up to discrimination and violence.”
While updating markers and names on documents can be time-consuming, it isn’t difficult and it doesn’t hurt anyone.
Being accused of fraud
When different institutions have different rules about who can change their documents, and under what circumstances, you end up with core documents that have different gender markers.
And if your documents don’t match, your risk of getting accused of fraud or identity theft increases drastically.
Consider this situation: A bouncer checks a young man’s ID to make sure he’s old enough to enter the bar. When he gets the ID, he sees that the man in front of him has a “female” gender marker on his license. The chances of this bouncer thinking this man has a fake ID go up drastically, when in reality this trans man hasn’t been able to update his ID.
Why we’re calling on financial institutions to #CallMeByMyName
Because the name and gender marker changing process is so difficult, financial institutions can help transgender and non-binary folks in getting other documents updated.
The LGBTQ community has $1 trillion spending power in the U.S. Despite that, more than half of them can’t maintain regular savings.
We created Daylight to combat that problem. A banking platform founded by queer millennials, Daylight prioritizes our community and helps our members reach their goals of supporting other LGBTQ creators and professionals.
All U.S. residents who create a Daylight account during our #CallMeByMyName campaign will get a donation made in their name to All Out. You can also support the cause by signing the petition we’ve created together with All Out and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Nearly 3,000 people have signed the petition. We need a bit more than 2,000 people to sign the campaign to reach our goal of at least 5,000 signers.
Add your voices to thousands of others by signing today. Daylight makes it possible for non-binary and trans people to get a debit card with your chosen name, no matter what name is on your ID. We believe financial institutions can do better, starting with us.
Get early access to Daylight. Join the waitlist today.