For trans Americans, changing your name can still be a matter of life or death

By Nico Lang
March 31, 2016

Everyone hates dealing with government bureaucracy—between the long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles, the mounds of paperwork, and the surly employees just waiting until the end of their shift, there’s a reason the DMV has come to symbolize drudgery and dissatisfaction in America.

But for Andre Perez, dealing with Uncle Sam was more complicated. Six years ago, while he was still in college, Perez came out as transgender and officially applied for a name change through his local county offices. When Perez, now 28, went to the Social Security office in Chicago, Illinois, he was asked for “proof” of his gender.

“What exactly am I supposed to prove?” Perez tells Quartz. “How I live my life? The kind of sex I have? What’s between my legs? What is in my soul? What even is gender?” The Social Security office employee clarified that she would need proof of “the surgery.” Perez responded, “Can I give you a journal entry detailing how I feel?”

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