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This article is a re-post from THE HILL The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is no longer labeling transgender pilots as victims of a “gender identify disorder.” The agency said this week that it has updated its medical guidelines for pilot testing to remove the disorder label for transgender pilots in favor of the phrase “Gender Dysphoria.” The FAA said the new categorization will allow transgender pilots to be cleared to fly more quickly than when they were considered to have an identify disorder. “We released new guidance for Aviation Medical Examiners on January 27 designed to standardize our policies on gender dysphoria and ensure pilots receive medical certification as quickly as possible,” an FAA spokesman said in a statement provided to The Hill. The FAA tests pilots every year for medical conditions. Advocacy groups for transgender pilots had complained that the “disorder” classification resulted in extra medical scrutiny for healthy pilots who have changed sexes during their professional careers. “Transgender individuals have quite a difficult time obtaining their FAA medical certificate, and still suffer discrimination at the hands of the FAA,” the Transgender Pilots Association said in a post on its website before the FAA announced the change. “Unfortunately the medical process for transgender pilots is far from streamlined and tends to hiccup along the way because many of the FAA staff have no idea how to process our medicals,” the group’s post continued. “Intervention by an outside entity like your congressperson or the [National Center for Transgender Equality] is Continue Reading →
Members from our site were contacted to assist in this KPIX CBS story and we applaud all of them for speaking out and sharing their stories, especially Jessica Zacharias who was the featured pilot in this story. Thank you Jessica and KPIX for your hard work in bringing this story into the public eye. — Original KPIX Story — OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – When it comes to clearing pilots for takeoff, the Federal Aviation Administration uses regular medical exams to make sure they’re fit to fly. But the process may not be fair for everyone in the cockpit. Every time Jessica Zacharias starts the engine of a plane, she’s fulfilling a childhood dream. “I remember in grade 3 creating a poster showing me and what my career goal was for the future and I said commercial airline pilot,” Zacharias said. Zacharias wound up with a tech career and a pilot’s license on the side. She flies for fun, and sometimes ferries planes for other owners, and even gives flying lessons. All of it requires her to update her airman’s medical certificate annually. “You show up to a local doctor who is certified to give aviation medicals,” Zacharias explained. “You go there and they give you a very basic medical including vision tests, hearing tests, and then they do a lot of other things that a normal medical would do, in terms of blood pressure, listen to you breathe, heart rate.” And that’s how it went, every year since 2001. Continue Reading →
Tamsyn Waterhouse, who had been a private pilot since 2003, called Transgender Law Center’s legal helpline in 2009 after she was told she would have to undergo burdensome psychological testing in order to renew her medical certification to fly. “I was honest with the Aviation Medical Examiner about my gender transition, and that’s when I was informed that I would have to undergo extensive psychological testing that non-trans people did not have to endure. It would have cost thousands of dollars. One psychiatrist described it as ‘every test in the book.’” In response, Transgender Law Center, in collaboration with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, began to advocate for policy changes to address this discrimination. Waterhouse’s cause was also supported by Waterhouse’s Congressman, Mike Honda, and Congressman Barney Frank. “I could have paid the money and tried to go through the process on my own,” noted Waterhouse. “But I wanted to make a difference for all transgender pilots.” The FAA regulatory decision is a part of a growing trend among the courts, government, and private employers in removing barriers transgender people have historically faced in accessing employment and services. Most recently, in a case brought by Transgender Law Center, Macy v. Holder, the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission ruled that transgender people are covered under Title VII’s employment discrimination protections. “Tamsyn had the courage to stand up and advocate for herself and other transgender pilots. Her willingness to share her story illustrates the power Continue Reading →