Screwed by the Patriot Act
I got whacked by the Patriot Act today, after investigating why my credit card application was declined, despite an excellent credit score. It's because of my recent legal name change clashing with said Patriot Act.
Here's the e-mail I sent to my lawyer (who did my name change pro bono) – identifying information redacted:
Hi, [redacted]…Because of my recent name change and the Patriot Act, I have found myself in the situation where I fear that I can never get credit, buy or sell a home, or rent an apartment ever again in my life; and probably I will not be able to switch banks or open new accounts, either. I don't know what help, if any, you can offer me. Had I known that this would happen, I would never have pursued a name change.
Here are the details.
I applied for a credit card at [redacted], under my new name. (I had no issue with changing my name on my existing accounts, BTW). It was rejected, b/c the credit agencies don't have a record of the name “Jan Rachel Friedman”. When I called to tell them that I've had a name change, they told me that in order to process it, I need to send them:
* Copy of name change court order
* Copy of driver's license
* Copy of bills from two different utilities (can't be two bills from the same utility)
I can supply the first two, but I live in a condo where the condo fee includes electricity and heat, so I am not billed separately for that. In response, the bank told me that they would accept
* Copy of an insurance bill
* AND copy of the condo's title
They will not accept a bill for internet or cellular service. They told me that all this bullshit was mandated by the Patriot Act.
I can supply the insurance bill, but since my property is mortgaged, I don't have the property title, so I can't give them a copy of it. Hence, I cannot get credit under my new name.
Continuing to have credit under my old name presents a grave danger to me. I cannot travel, because my credit card is under my old name…male name / female presentation = guaranteed harrassment / police abuse / worse.
It seems that my only recourse is to go through another legal name change BACK to my old name (which I'm sure would look very suspicious to a court), detransition, and live as male.
Do you have any suggestions as to what to do, or who else to go to for help? Also, I wonder if I have a case that the ACLU would take up?
More after the fold…
Well, on the practical side, my lawyer suggested that I go directly through the credit bureaus. His response included this interesting note:
Firstly, I suspect the credit card issuer is hiding behind the PATRIOT Act and that it doesn't actually require what they're asking for. What they're asking for sounds like proof of ID and residency, which is pretty standard.
So, are the bank people just being typical bureaucratic assholes, or was the dude on the other end of the line fucking with me because he saw a change from a male name to a female name? I will probably never know.
Funny, when I went to change my name on my checking / savings account, at the same bank, they only needed to see my driver's license and the name-change court order. I did that at the local branch, and they were very pleasant about it; clearly, they had trans-specific training for their customer reps. That does not suprise me – Philadelphia's human rights ordinance protects gender identity.
The Patriot Act is screwing trans people over, and when the Real ID act goes into affect in 2008, more trans people will get screwed. And it's just not trans people. How about poor people who are trying to escape shelter life and rent an apartment…how are they going to provide the 16,485 different forms of ID that the Pa-Fucking-Traot Act demands?