Gender Prison: FAA amends rules about transgender pilots

The Federal Aviation Administration has amended its Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners to change the medical certification process for transpeople. The psychological testing previously required transgender applicants to take a battery of tests, including personality, projective, and intelligence tests…believing, apparently, that being transgender intrinsically caused one to be a potential safety risk. This resulted in transgender pilots being grounded and even losing their jobs under previous criteria.

The amended procedure will only require that transgender pilots provide current clinical records including an evaluation from a psychologist or psychiatrist, and a report on any surgery (if applicable).

The new amendment is to Item 41 of the Guide, which covers the G-U System. It is listed right after Pregnancy.

Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and gender reassignment require a complete review of the individual’s relevant medical history and records. For initial consideration the Examiner must defer and submit the following to AMCD or RFS:

    A current status report to include:
      All current medications, dosages, and side-effects; and copies of all pertinent inpatient and outpatient medical records pertaining to the individual’s GID diagnosis, work-up, and treatment.
      Psychiatric and/or psychological evaluations by a board certified psychiatrist and/or a licensed psychologist experienced in transgender issues that includes an assessment of any substance abuse or misuse. Neurocognitive testing is not required unless clinically indicated.
      Hospital and post-operative report from the surgeon if individual has had surgery.

NOTE: If the individual refrains from surgery, no surgical report is required. However, if surgery is elected at a later date, follow-up reports from a psychiatrist and/or psychologist and the surgeon will be required.

Response has been coming in slowly:

It was as though somebody had said, 'OK, we don't know a lot about transgender people, but we think something might be wrong with them.'" There's no particular reason to think that just because someone is transgender or transitioning, they would have developed some kind of cognitive deficit.

[The tests] put a lot of people through a lot of cost and effort.

--Harper Jean Tobin, NCTE

Pilots were often required to finance the testing procedure themselves.

This sends a positive signal that being trans shouldn't create barriers to people being able to [perform] a highly-skilled job with a lot of responsibility. We think this is going to make things a lot easier and fairer all the way around.

--Tobin

The National Center for Transgender Equality would like to thank Drs. George Brown and Randall Ehrbar for their expertise as well as the FAA, the Obama Administration, the Transgender Law Center, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Representatives Mike Honda and Barney Frank for their work on this issue. NCTE will continue to monitor this issue to ensure the new procedures are implemented in a fair and sensible way.

In other news, there is a new app for your iPhone that some may find useful, called TranSquat. Powered by safe-2-pee, which is a national data base of gender neutral restrooms, TranSquat locates nearby gender neutral bathrooms for its user. Users are encouraged to add and share new locations to help build the directory.

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