Fact Check: Is State Dept. Revoking Passports for Trans Women?

Last week, what appeared to be just the latest Donald Trump administration outrage against transgender Americans created a minor media firestorm, when the Condé Nast-owned LGBTQ-oriented site them published a report stating that, “trans women say the State Department is retroactively revoking their passports.”

The article led with the story of Danni Askini, executive director of the Seattle-based Gender Justice League advocacy group, who 20 years on from her transition said that the United States State Department had demanded “proof” of her citizenship, and of her transition.

“Today I was denied a renewal of my US Passport and told I would need to get a judge to unseal child welfare records from Foster care in order to ‘prove’ my US Citizenship. Despite having had all ‘Female’ ID since 1999, they are now demanding ‘Proof of Transition’ for the 1st time,” Askini wrote on her Twitter account.

Another women, Janus Rose, said on her Twitter account that “the U.S. passport office just called and told me that due to an ‘error,’ the government has retroactively invalidated the change of gender marker it authorized on my passport last year.”

While the stories understandably caused alarm and were reported widely in the media, the National Center for Transgender Equality quickly investigated the claims, and reported over the weekend that they found no change in policy at the State Department with regard to passports for transgender U.S. citizens, as the LGBTQ newspaper The Washington Blade reported.

“NCTE has investigated recent concerns about passport processing for transgender people,” the group’s spokesperson Gillian Branstetter told the paper. “All of the incidents we have seen involved unusual circumstances and bureaucratic mistakes by the passport agency and have caused very unfortunate hardship and anxiety for our community members.”

On the NCTE Twitter account, the organization wrote, “the longstanding passport gender marker policy has not changed,” but added, “we are closely monitoring the issue and are vigilant for any attack on the rights of our community.”

Trump last year announced that he would ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military and as the American Civil Liberties Union reported, the administration is going ahead with the ban despite four court rulings against it.

Photo by Spc. Michael Camacho, United States Army / Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)