Social Security Fiasco

I was fortunate enough to land a student job at my school, but have experienced a technical difficulty with the paperwork after my soon-to-be employers called The Social Security Administration (SSA). On my first day I was told to visit the campus Human Resources (HR) department to fill out paperwork in order to be officially employed.

I did so and the next day I received an e-mail requesting that I return to the HR office to discuss some things.


I was informed that part of the employee verification process is done through a system called E-Verify, which apparently involves my social security number. The results said that my number is real, but that the information provided it isn't matching up. The HR employee was clearly baffled and admitted that this was the first time they'd had E-Verify reject a social security number. I told her that I had my name legally changed recently and maybe it wasn't updated yet in the social security database.

She provided me two forms to bring with me to the local Social Security Administration office:

  1. Notice to Employee of Tentative Nonconfirmation 
  2. Referral to the Social Security Administration

So I headed down to SSA as soon as I could, earlier today.

Fortunately, they weren't super busy and I didn't even have a chance to sit down before my number was called. Nice!

The employee I corresponded with there was incredibly nice. When I handed her my two completed forms, she seemed familiar with them and told me that processing them would only take about 10 minutes. I also provided her my new license that reflects my current legal name and gender, my birth certificate reflecting new name and gender, and also my official Amendment of Birth Record To Reflect Court Order Change of Name form that I was told could be used in place of the court documents I'd received for these instances.

And this form has worked for everything so far, such as updating my bank account information, getting my new state ID from the state, updating my school records, and so on. Until now.

The employee hit an obstacle of some sort, apologized to me, and then went to talk with her boss. When she returned, I was informed that she could update my name, but that the SSA has a policy in terms of changing the sex on my social security card. In order to do so, I would need to show them proof of sex reassignment surgery.

Wha? Despite the fact that both my state ID and birth certificate say I'm legally male - the SSA requires documentation from a surgeon saying that I've had "sex reassignment surgery"?

Which means what, exactly? That I can't acquire employment until I have enough money to afford the right type of "sex reassignment surgery" because E-Verify will report to my potential employers that my SSN is non-confirmed? And what type of surgery does it pertain to even, exactly? Because, the thing is - with trans men, many of us may never opt for genital reassignment surgery.

From Hudson's FTM Resource Guide:
Most (but not all) trans men will have at least one surgical procedure in his lifetime related to gender transition, if not several of them. However, it is important to note that many trans men do not avail themselves of the surgeries listed below due to cost considerations, health reasons, or personal reasons. Currently, most surgeries related to gender transition are not covered by insurance companies, so costs can be prohibitive for many trans men of lower or fixed incomes.

FTM surgery is generally divided into three main groups:

1. Chest reconstruction surgeries (also referred to as "top" surgery or male chest contouring);
2. Hysterectomy and oophorectomy (removal of the uterus and ovaries, respectively); and
3. Genital reconstruction surgeries (also referred to as "lower" or "bottom" surgery or GRS).
In other words, this could be a pretty serious predicament. Now that all of my legal documentation reflects one gender, my SSN reflects another. This may consistently generate E-Verify mismatching, errors, confusion and potential employment-barring hassles.

I was encouraged to provide my documentation "to regional" to go over and either accept or reject.

With documentation, I have my original court order that I'll bring in. I will also ask my doctor to write a letter; and, unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to get a letter from my therapist until I get enough money together to pay for an appointment with him, also.

The employee was as helpful as she could be given the circumstances, which was nice. She told me that when I returned with the documentation, I wouldn't have to wait. I could just flag her down and she'd come out and get the paperwork. And, if she was gone, I could use the envelope she'd provided for me and drop everything into their drop box.

Hopefully my original court document and letter from my doctor will be enough to convince regional and I will be able to move on and become legally employed.


  1. i hope you get all that social security stuff figured out! maybe you can put some feelers out to other trans guys and ask them how they've dealt with that (although i'm guessing you've probably already considered this option). i'll keep my fingers crossed for you that the court document and the letter from your doctor do the trick!

  2. If your birth certificate says you're male, and you have a court order saying you're male, why do you also need proof of surgery?! This sounds wrong... so wrong. I hope it all works out for you!

    Also thanks for being a human sun-shade for me yesterday! I still got a little pink, but that's my own damn fault for forgetting sunblock...

  3. Ashleigh: I got a bit of input from other trans individuals, but the "Social Security Gender No-Match Letters and Transgender Employees" document from the National Center for Transgender Equality I found was the most helpful source of information I've found about it thus far.

    Thank you for the feedback and support!

  4. Kestryl: You're welcome!

    And yes, it's a bit warped, isn't it? I'm federally "female" and locally "male", legally. It's kind of appropriate, in a genderqueer sort of way. ;]

    Still! A huge pain, functionally!

  5. The pinch/punch girl totally wants you.


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