Mastercard allows transgender people use chosen name on debit, credit cards

by Kim Boateng Posted on June 17th, 2019

Mastercard will allow transgender people to use their chosen names on credit and debit cards in an effort to combat discrimination at the cash register.

That means that the name on the credit card owned by a transgender person could be different than that found on their birth certificate or driver’s license.

It is up to the banks that issue the cards to actually implement the change and on Monday, Mastercard called on those banks to do so.

Three states — Tennessee, Kansas and Ohio — legally bar a transgender person from changing the sex listed on their birth certificate, according to Out Leadership, a LGBT rights organization that focuses on advocacy at the corporate level. This can create confusion when a person uses one name to reflect their identity, but may have a different name legally.

A 2015 study showed that 32% of transgender people who had to show an ID with a name or gender that did not match their presentation experienced harassment, were denied services or were attacked.

“When we were alerted to this, we realized we could do something about it,” said Raj Seshadri, president of U.S. issuers for Mastercard.

A transgender person will no longer have to wait to get a legal name change, make changes to their birth certificate or other legal maneuvers, Seshadri said. The change of name on a card will not create any security issues, she said, since Mastercard uses other security metrics to determine whether a purchase is legitimate or not.

Mastercard unveiled the plan in a panel discussion with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

In a statement, the company noted that at present the name on the credit, debit or prepaid card of transgender and non-binary communities does not reflect their true identity.

Mastercard, citing 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, said that about one-third of individuals who showed IDs with a different name or gender which is against their presentation, reported negative experiences. They were harassed, denied services, and/or attacked.

The result was that many in the community chose to forego the cost, complexity and anxiety associated with official name and gender changes.

Mastercard said the card is being developed with a “sensitive and private process” with no personal questions.

In a Twitter post, the company said, “No matter how you identify, #AcceptanceMatters. For many in the LGBTQIA+ community, the name on their card doesn’t reflect their true identity. This WorldPride, we’ve announced an initiative allowing your chosen name to appear on the front of your card. #StartSomethingPriceless.”

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