U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts introduced a bill on Transgender Day of Visibility Friday to protect transgender and nonbinary people facing credit discrimination. The Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act addresses credit issues and discrimination faced by transgender and nonbinary people who legally change their names.
The Democratic lawmaker’s bill amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require nationwide consumer reporting agencies to use a consumer’s current legal name on consumer reports upon request.
Consumer reporting issues are common for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals after changing their names, including fragmentation of their credit report into two or more unconnected files after a name change and the fact that often, their name change and subsequent credit actions are never reflected in their reports.
When transgender or nonbinary people change their names with creditors or apply for credit using their current names, the credit bureaus create an entirely new credit file. Consequently, their credit report is fragmented into two or more unconnected files, and any credit actions taken after that do not appear.
This fragmentation often negatively impacts people’s financial and personal lives, causing them to lose 100 points or more on their credit score, making it difficult to access banking services, mortgages, auto loans, employment, and rental housing.
Moreover, even if transgender or nonbinary individuals update their credit reports with their new names, their old names remain visible on their reports. As a result, these consumers may suffer discrimination or harassment in the workplace, housing, or credit.
“Our broken credit reporting system has perpetuated inequities and pushed our most vulnerable consumers—including the trans and nonbinary community—further to the margins, risking their livelihoods and economic pursuits,” Pressley told The Advocate in a statement.
The Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act would prohibit nationwide credit reporting agencies from including a consumer’s former name on their credit report following a legal name change. This is given the evidence that transgender and nonbinary people suffer severe adverse effects from having their dead names reflected on their credit reports.
The cost of credit reporting problems can affect consumers’ financial and personal lives, making it difficult to access banking services, mortgages, auto financing, employment, and rental housing.
In her bill, Pressley seeks to alleviate these burdens.
“The Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act is a legislative fix that will help prevent the financial discrimination of trans and nonbinary people and improve accuracy in consumer reporting,” she said.
Approximately 1.4 million adults identified as transgender in 2017, and about 1.2 million identified as nonbinary in 2021, according to the Williams Institute.
National and state LGBTQ+ advocacy groups support the measure.
“Being able to have a name that reflects who you are is essential to ensuring one’s safety and dignity,” said David Brown, legal director at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. “The Name Accuracy in Credit Reporting Act of 2023 is critical, common sense legislation that will protect transgender and nonbinary people from being denied a financially secure future just because they’ve changed their name. We are grateful to Rep. Ayanna Pressley for her leadership on this important legislation.”
Boston’s GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) celebrated the bill.
“Transgender people often experience discrimination in areas critical to economic security such as employment and housing. Facing additional financial barriers, including in something as essential and commonplace as credit reporting, can further compound economic instability,” said Michael Johnson, Chief Legal Strategist at GLAD.
“We’re grateful to Representative Pressley and other House leaders for working to address harmful obstacles such as loss of credit history and involuntary outing that transgender individuals may experience when dealing with credit agencies following a legal name change,” Johnson added.
While transgender communities are attacked politically and legislated out of existence across Republican-controlled states, Pressley’s announcement is timely.
Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives earlier this week, Pressley recognized Transgender Day of Visibility while discussing her bill.
She also addressed the anti-trans sentiment spreading through the political sphere nationwide and making itself into real-world policies.
“May we as members of Congress renew our efforts to condemn transphobia in all of its forms,” Pressley said. “The rhetoric is harmful, the policy is violent, and it stands to harm our most vulnerable and marginalized communities. May we stand with trans students who deserve to learn in a school environment free from hate. May we stand with the parents who are raising trans children, fighting to make a safer world for them. May we stand with the community organizers, movement builders, and status quo disruptors who are on the front lines of trans liberation.”
She continued, “May we do more than espouse the values of equality and freedom but practice them to include all people. When we say Black lives matter, that must include black trans lives in the fight for human rights. We must affirm that trans rights are human rights, and when we evoke the words of Fannie Lou Hamer that nobody is free until we all are free, that must include our siblings in the trans community.”
Pressley told The Advocate that the time to act is now.
“Passing this bill would be a meaningful step as we work towards long-overdue economic justice for the trans community. I’m proud to introduce this legislation on Transgender Day of Visibility, and I’m grateful to our partners in this work,” Pressley said.
Watch Rep. Pressley’s House Floor speech below.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley Honors Trans Community on Trans Day of Visibilitywww.youtube.com