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Transgender Pilots Face Additional FAA Scrutiny For Medical Certificates

Subjected To More In-Depth Psychological Evaluation And Provide Extensive Personal Information

The Transgender Law Center based in Oakland, CA says that the FAA holds transgender pilots to an unreasonably high standard when it comes to being granted a medical certificate. 

Jessica Zacharias has wanted to be a pilot since third grade. She is a flight instructor, flies for personal enjoyment, and will sometimes ferry airplanes for other other owners. She was also born a male.

Every year since 2001, she had renewed her medical certificate in accordance with the FARs. But in 2013, she reported to the FAA that she was in the process of transitioning from male to female, and that's when the FAA said they would require extra medical information from her.

Television Station KIPX reports that Zacharias said she was required to undergo an additional psychological evaluation, and provide a letter from her doctor describing her prescription drugs and her transition prognosis. They also asked for very detailed information about her plans for the future.

The Transgender Law Center's legal director Ilona Turner told the station the Zacharias was told that being transgender meant that she is "inherently unstable." That attitude was supposedly addressed in 2012, when the center helped another transgender pilot change the FAA's policy. "The fact that the folks at the FAA are still repeating that is very troubling," Turner said.

In a statement, the FAA said that  "Once a transgender pilot is determined to be stable following their gender transition, they may be issued an unrestricted medical certificate…We are in the process of clarifying our guidance in our aviation medical examiners guide."

The also told KPIX that they are updating the term "gender identity disorder" with "gender dysphoria," which is used by the American Psychiatric Association and many transgender organizations.



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