As a money app, personal finance is our bizness. We’re always banging on about credit scores, and the trans and non-binary struggle comes into this. Here’s why:
When someone transitions or changes their name, their credit report can sometimes split in two. Their deadname retains all of their previous credit history.
This is a huge issue for people with good credit history, and just a general pain in the ass to deal with whatever your credit score 🙃
The world of credit can already be something of a mindfuck, and some trans people find that their deadnames still appear on their credit reports after they transition.
On top of personal frustration, this can cause all kinds of problems - especially housing, employment and lending discrimination.
Why is bad credit a larger risk for the trans community?
Well, as we’ve spoken about at length, good credit is pretty important for the little things in life here in the US, like finding a home and a job <3
Bad credit puts people at risk of being turned down for work, and being turned down for housing by landlords.
This can then entrap people in a viscous circle of BS that’s tricky to escape (more on how to get out of this later).
Why this is especially dangerous for the trans community is because they already face housing and job discrimination.
As a whole, LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness.
The trans community are more vulnerable to abuse when homeless than cisgender people. In 39% of cases, trans people have to leave shelters to escape mistreatment, making it the biggest factor for departure - over finding somewhere safe to stay.
But this doesn’t have to be the case because…
Changing your name will NOT damage your credit score
Changing your name in itself will not damage your credit, if you realign your credit score.
Luckily, all three credit bureaus do ~the bare minimum~ and allow trans people to update their names on credit reports - if you have necessary documentation, and follow each credit bureau’s process.
To make sure your identity is consistent across all your credit reports, you’re gonna have to update all three (fun!). We’ve laid each credit bureau’s process out below.
PSA: we know this is potentially a frustrating and emotionally weighted process. You probably have more important things to be dealing with during or after transitioning.
But aligning your score is absolutely doable, and it’s incredibly important as a way of protecting your credit.
Go hard on the self-care
Before, during and after the process. We recommend taking a day off work, or putting an afternoon aside to deal with it.
Invite your friends over as support. This is exactly the kind of thing friends mean when they say “let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” We just need to be better at asking for it.
Buy yourself a bottle of rosé (or prosecco, or a nice OJ) to open ceremoniously when it’s done 💙
How to align your credit reports after a name change
📍First and foremost, you’re going to want to make sure you have all the proper documentation updated with your new name - stuff like your social security number.
This is a super helpful resource explaining the process for changing your IDs in each state.
📍Next up: if you haven’t already, inform your bank and creditors of your name change.
📍You can then update your name with each credit bureau - Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
What you need:
📜 A copy of the court order reflecting your legal name change. The court order must include both your former and current legal names.
A government-issued identification card with your old or new legal name. This could be a driver's license, state ID card, military ID or passport. They can accept either an old or new government-issued ID.
📄 A dated copy of a utility, bank or insurance statement with your old or new legal name addressed to you at your current mailing address.
Request a name change online by uploading supporting documents or get instructions for beginning a name change by mail here.
You need documentation of your:
🏦Social Security number (SSN), such as your updated Social Security card, a pay stub, or Medicare/Medicaid card.
🏠Current address, such as a utility or phone bill, pay stub or bank statement with your new name.
📄Legal Name, such as a copy of the court order with your former name and new name, current driver's license, or Social Security card with new name.
📎Date of birth, such as state ID/driver's license or passport.
The easiest way to change your name on your Equifax credit report is through the myEquifax Dispute Center. The Dispute Center is where you go to update or change inaccurate or incomplete information on your Equifax credit report.
If you don't have a myEquifax account, create one and register using your former name, which will be used to locate your report. Then you'll "dispute" your deadname so that your credit history is associated with your new name.
💌 TransUnion decided to be vintage and have their process be over post. In order to change your name on your TransUnion credit report, you’ll need to mail in supporting documents, which will likely be the court order regarding your name change.
💌 Include a letter requesting the name change that includes your address, date of birth and Social Security number so they can locate your credit report in our system.
💌 You’ll mail that documentation to:
TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
Congratulations, you have completed the bureaucratic quest to vanquish your deadname. Take a deep breath. Run outside. Scream at the god of credit bureaus.
Jokes aside, dealing with personal finance as a queer person shouldn’t have to be a negative experience.
What to do if your credit score has been damaged
It’s totally understandable if your credit ain’t looking too good. As we mentioned earlier, homelessness is a big issue for the trans community - caused and exacerbated by anti-trans discrimination.
If you’re having to stay at a friend’s house because you’ve been kicked out by your family, the last thing you’re going to be thinking is, “well, gosh darn, this is not going to do wonders for my credit score.”
Remember your credit is not a reflection of your self worth. By just being your authentic self in whatever way is safe for you, you’re doing amazing sweetie 💅
Bad credit feels like a heavy burden to carry, but there is a way out - we have a whole section of blog posts about it. However, we realise that a lot of these solutions are dependant upon having an address, which is part of the viscous circle that keep people homeless.
In this case, there are some great charities out there helping homeless LGBTQ+ people secure an address, including True Colors United.
The next step in sorting out your financial health is finding a bank that’s right for you. Luckily there exists a bank for both queer people and allies alike.
☀️Let’s talk about queer banking with Daylight ☀️
(Not because we’re affiliated with them, just because we love ‘em)
Daylight is the only bank account that rewards LGBTQ+ folks for spending in line with their values. They’re not only designed for LGBTQ+ folks, but chosen families and allies who want to put their money to work for themselves and for the LGBTQ+ community.
Here’s a lil taster of their awesome features:
🔆 Financial education and life coaches that can help you manage your finances better. This includes information on surrogacies, negotiating your salary, paying down debt and finding financing that meets your needs.
🔆Each month they’ll send you a personalized spending report that shows you how queer friendly your shopping is and offers you better alternatives. The more queer friendly you are, the better rewards they’ll offer. Easy.
Eat that chicken sandwich without leaving a bad taste in your mouth (ahem, Chic Fil A).
🔆They give back to the community. For every eligible customer who signs up before October 1st, they’ll be giving $10 to an LGBTQ+ mutual aid program. With Rewards Realness, they reward you with 10% cash back every time you spend money with a queer business.
We love to see it. Because fighting for the world’s financial health also means fighting for the LGBTQ+ community.
Enjoy this post? Def give it a share or send it along to a friend. You never know, it could make a big difference. And of course, if you want to try the best money app in the world for free, just hit this link right here.
Happy Pride. Big love. Cleo 💙💚💛🧡❤️