Pressley Unveils Bill to Address Credit Issues Faced by Trans, Nonbinary Folks Following Legal Name Changes
July 28, 2022
Reposted from the Office of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Original press release here.
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, along with Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45), applauded the committee passage of the Credit Reporting Accuracy After a Legal Name Change Act, their brand-new legislation to make our credit reporting system more inclusive and address credit issues and discrimination faced by trans and nonbinary people who legally change their names.
The legislation was passed by the House Financial Services Committee today, and Rep. Pressley delivered remarks in support of the bill at the committee markup yesterday. To view her full remarks, click here.
“In this country, your credit score is your financial reputation, for better or worse, and the credit reporting system has perpetuated inequities and pushed our most vulnerable consumers—including our trans and nonbinary siblings—further to the margins,” said Rep. Pressley. “Our Credit Reporting Accuracy After a Legal Name Change Act is a legislative fix that will help prevent the financial discrimination of trans and nonbinary people and improve accuracy in consumer reporting. Passing this bill would be a meaningful step as we work towards long-overdue economic justice for the trans community. I’m grateful to Chairwoman Waters and our colleagues on the Financial Services Committee for supporting this critical bill and urge the full House to pass our bill without delay.”
“No one should face long-term financial punishment for living their truth,” said Rep. Porter, a longtime consumer protection advocate. “And yet, many transgender and nonbinary Americans are being saddled with a lifetime of financial harm after legally changing their name. I’m proud to join Congresswoman Pressley in leading this long overdue legislation to require credit agencies to update Americans’ records.”
Transgender and nonbinary people disproportionately face significant issues obtaining accurate credit reports and scores after legally changing their names. When someone changes their first name, credit bureaus continue to disclose their prior name, also known as their deadname, which exposes transgender and nonbinary people to discrimination and harassment in credit, housing, and employment.
Additionally, the credit bureaus often do not reconcile information that creditors and other information furnishers provide in the current name. As a result, when a trans or nonbinary person changes their name with a creditor or applies for credit using their current name, the credit bureaus create an entirely new credit file. Thus, their credit report fragments into two or more unconnected files and any credit actions that follow are never reflected in their report.
This fragmentation directly contributes to negative impacts in individuals’ financial and personal lives, often including credit score decreases of 100 points or more, which can be a barrier to accessing banking services, mortgages, auto financing, employment, and rental housing.
The Credit Reporting Accuracy After a Legal Name Change Act would help address these adverse effects by prohibiting the nationwide credit reporting agencies from including a consumer’s former name on their credit report following a legal name change. A summary of the bill is available here and the full bill text is available here.
Joining Reps. Pressley and Porter in co-sponsoring the bill are Reps. Marie Newman, Jesus “Chuy” García, and Ritchie Torres.
The Credit Reporting Accuracy After a Legal Name Change Act is supported by MassEquality, Boston Lesbigay Urban Foundation, Consumer Federation of America, Public Citizen, American Civil Liberties Union, California Employment Lawyers Association, Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, CR (formerly Consumer Reports), Equality California, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Consumer Law Center, National LGBTQ Task Force, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and UC Berkeley School of Law, Center for Consumer Law and Economic Justice.
“The transgender community faces many economic hurdles, and we are appreciative that Representative Pressley has taken action in this matter. The inadvertent deadnaming of transgender consumers on a credit file can have grave consequences for those seeking employment and housing which impact financial stability. While we acknowledge that there are many additional and intersectional economic hurdles facing transgender consumers, we are hopeful that this legislation will help to remove some of these barriers,” said Tanya Neslusan, Executive Director, MassEquality.
“We applaud Representative Pressley for introducing the Credit Reporting Accuracy After a Legal Name Change Act of 2022. This much-needed legislation will improve accuracy of credit reporting and remove discriminatory obstacles to employment, housing, insurance, and credit after a name change. More fair and equitable access to these essentials will lift low-income people out of poverty, improve the financial health of transgender and nonbinary people, and economically empower their households and communities,” said Spencer Watson, Executive Director, Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR).
“Being able to have a name that reflects who you are is essential to ensuring one’s safety and dignity. The Credit Reporting Accuracy After a Legal Name Change Act of 2022 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,” said David Brown, Legal Director, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF).
“This bill addresses yet another problem with the credit reporting system – the serious and unique problems faced by transgender and nonbinary consumers after a name change,” said Chi Chi Wu, National Consumer Law Center attorney. “We commend Representative Pressley for introducing the bill and for her ongoing efforts to dismantle the credit bureau oligopoly.”
“The Credit Reporting Accuracy After a Legal Name Change” will go far to protect transgender and nonbinary people who have gone through all the required steps when they legally changed their name, only to find themselves outed when their former names are reflected in their credit reports. We appreciate Representative Pressley’s leadership on this bill which also urges the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to use its existing statutory authority to direct the credit bureaus to resolve other identity-matching problems commonly encountered by trans and nonbinary consumers,” said Valerie Ploumpis, National Policy Director, Equality California.
“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. 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,” said Michael Johnson, Chief Legal Strategist, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
“Calling family by their true name is incredibly important to PFLAG — we support our transgender and nonbinary family by recognizing that they need to be fairly treated in employment, housing, and credit, which are the foundations of financial stability and security. We appreciate Representative Pressley’s bill and her leadership in protecting our families,” said Nina Selvaggio, Interim Executive Director, Greater Boston PFLAG.
Throughout her time in Congress, Rep. Pressley has been a staunch advocate for consumer protections and addressing the deep flaws in America’s credit reporting system.
In January 2020, the House passed her Comprehensive CREDIT Act, bold legislative package to protect consumers from unfair credit reporting practices and affirm the right of all Americans to an equitable and transparent credit reporting process. Rep. Pressley has also introduced the Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act, which establishes protections for private student loan borrowers similar to those that already exist for borrowers with federal student loans. In February 2022, Rep. Pressley re-introduced the Housing Emergencies Lifeline Program (HELP) Act, which would prohibit credit reporting of evictions and rent and utility debt, fund legal representation for those at risk of eviction, crack down on illegal evictions, and more. In a 2019 Financial Services Committee hearing, Rep. Pressley discussed the need to remove barriers LGBTQIA+ people face to securing credit and housing.