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Uber blocked transgender driver accounts, report says

Uber Transgender Drivers

Five transgender drive say that despite promise made by Uber that they could update their documents to reflect their gender identity, they were locked out of their accounts or permanently banned from driving or delivery jobs on the platform, according a report from the Los Angeles Times

Five transgender drivers say that despite promise made by Uber that they could update their documents to reflect their gender identity, they were locked out of their accounts or permanently banned from driving or delivery jobs on the platform, according a report from the Los Angeles Times.

Uber said they didn’t have access to their accounts because the documents they submitted were fraudulent, the Times reports.

The drivers who identify as transgender said they spent hours with Uber’s support staff trying to fix the situation, including attempting to have their new names displayed rather than their “deadnames,” the Times said.

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None of the five drivers managed to get their accounts reactivated through Uber’s appeals process.

“They weren’t listening to me. They didn’t believe me,” Adrian Escobedo, a transgender man in Bakersfield, told the Times.

Interviews with drivers and documentation were provided to the Times by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Uber spokesman Zahid Arab told the Times that matching profile photos or government IDs are fraud prevention measures as part of the company’s safety protocols.

“We continue to work on improving internal processes and working with our third party background check providers to help ensure the background check check process runs as expected for transgender and nonbinary users.”

Arab also said Uber is working to reactivate the accounts brought to light by the Times investigation.

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On June 1, as part of its Pride month campaign, Uber announced plans “to create a safer, more inclusive company” for transgender, nonbinary, and other LGBTQ identifying customers and drivers.

The company said it would allow trans and nonbinary drivers to display their self-identified first name, and establish a $60,000 fund to help its drivers cover costs of updating their legal IDs and records.

One of the drivers, Autumn Jean, of Tampa, Fla., who signed up to work with Postmates, but found herself permanently deactivated in June when the company bought Uber.

“The thing that was so frustrating was seeing (Uber) gallivant on Twitter about all the great things they’re doing for the trans people,” she said. “Here I am, a trans person trying to make a living, telling you it’s actually impossible to sign up.”

The result, Jean told the Times, whether the company’s actions are intentional or not, “has the effect of being transphobic.”

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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