EDITOR NOTE: While for most of us, our legal name hardly gets in the way of our our freedom to change “identities” as people (every one of us changes, however slightly or dramatically, over time), this flexibility doesn’t extend to those who consider themselves “transgender.” The problem with this inflexibility is that it can put transgender people at serious risk, should their birth name and gender be “outed” under the wrong circumstances, their information exposed to people who may do them harm. Citi is one of the few banks aiming to “correct” this problem. Sure, there may be ramifications to this action; pros and cons; benefits and risks--after all, we’re dealing with the issue of legal identity. But perhaps the difference between action and inaction may be night and day.
In 2019, Mastercard announced its True Name initiative to make it possible for members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender and non-binary people, to use their preferred first name on their credit, debit, and prepaid cards. A little more than a year later, Citi has become the first bank to provide that option with some of its U.S. credit cards.
- Cardholders with certain Citi-branded consumer credit cards who identify as transgender or non-binary can choose to use their preferred first name on their credit card.
- Not all Citi cards are eligible for the program, and it does not change the legal name on the cardholder’s account.
- Cardholders can update their name online or by calling customer service.
How This New Program Works
If you’re a Citi credit card holder and identify as trans or non-binary, you may have the option to add your preferred first name to your card.
The service is available only for existing cardholders, which means you can’t request to add your True Name when opening an account—but you can do so after the account is established.
According to Citi, most of its consumer credit cards with a Mastercard or Visa logo are eligible. Cards that are not currently included in the program are:
- Small business credit cards
- Corporate credit cards
- Professional credit cards
- Citi American Express credit cards
- Shell Fuel Rewards Mastercard
- L.L. Bean Mastercard
- My Best Buy Visa Card
- Shop Your Way Mastercard
- The Brooks Brothers Platinum Mastercard
- Meijer Mastercard
- Wayfair Mastercard
If you have an eligible card, you can submit a request by calling customer service or logging into your online account. If you want to do it through your account, visit your profile and click on “Use a Preferred First Name” in the contact information section.
If you have multiple Citi credit cards that are eligible, you’ll need to call customer service to make your request. Once you complete the process, you should receive a replacement card within four to seven business days.
It’s important to note, though, that the True Name program doesn’t change your legal name on your credit card account or certain communications from Citi. However, if a merchant requires you to show an ID that doesn’t match the name on your card, they can call the number on the back of the card to verify your identity with Citi.
Why It Matters
More than 1.4 million Americans identify as transgender, according to data from the federal Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.1
Members of the trans and non-binary communities frequently experience discrimination. For example, "deadnaming" a trans or non-binary person—referring to them by their birth or former name without consent—is often used to dismiss their true gender identity.
In a report by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 32% of survey respondents who have shown an ID with a name or gender marker that didn’t match their gender presentation said they experienced verbal harassment, were denied benefits or service, asked to leave an establishment, or assaulted.2
“This new credit card program can have a positive impact on so many Americans’ everyday lives,” Jamie Hash, an active-duty Air Force member currently stationed in Europe, told Investopedia.
“Even though my name and gender marker have been changed for years now,” she adds, “I can still remember the anguish and feeling of dysphoria I felt during the numerous instances where I had to present a card with a name on it that didn’t reflect my truth and authentic self.”
Some states and banks have strict requirements for changing legal names, which can make it difficult and costly for trans and non-binary people to use the name that aligns with their identity on their credit cards. The True Name program accomplishes that without the requirement of a legal name change, Mastercard notes.
“For many of my transgender siblings, this is a critical safety issue, because there has been an epidemic of violence taking place in America targeting mostly black trans women,” says Hash. “Being outed in a checkout line is just another external obstacle trans people often face, and it’s so uplifting to see the True Name initiative stand up and address it.”
Originally posted on Investopedia