SF, SD, LA city attorneys ask Uber to explain trans policies after complaints

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday February 3, 2022
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San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu and his counterparts in Los Angeles and San Diego have sent a letter to Uber asking about its transgender policies. Photo: Courtesy the Verge
San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu and his counterparts in Los Angeles and San Diego have sent a letter to Uber asking about its transgender policies. Photo: Courtesy the Verge

Uber is coming under fire from three California city attorneys after transgender drivers shared stories of being deadnamed or banned from the rideshare company's platforms with no recourse.

"Transgender and gender nonconforming drivers should not have to put themselves in danger or navigate a bureaucratic nightmare just to make a living," San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu stated in a news release . "Shielding drivers from workplace violence and ensuring equal opportunity to work are non-negotiable. We look forward to engaging with Uber to ensure that the company has adequate protections and policies in place for transgender drivers."

Uber is headquartered in San Francisco — in what used to be Chiu's Assembly district before he was appointed city attorney last year. He was joined in the letter by San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott and Los Angeles City Attorney Michael N. Feuer.

The controversy began after the Los Angeles Times published a story late last year reporting that trans people whose government-issued documents are discongruous with their gender identities have had problems getting recourse.

The LA Times reported that some drivers were permanently banned after the company treated their documents as fraudulent.

The letter asks Uber about its fraud prevention policies; what options are available for individualized reviews when fraud is suspected; what its policies are with regard to allowing trans people's chosen names to be displayed in lieu of legal names; and what the process is for Uber drivers who are transitioning to have photos or names displayed to the public changed.

"Uber talks a good game when it comes to LGBTQ equality but when the rubber meets the road, they appear to be failing transgender drivers," Feuer stated. "As proud community allies, we want to know if these are isolated mistakes or part or a larger pattern dictating who gets to drive for Uber."

Elliott stated that "Sabotaging the ability of transgender and nonbinary individuals to secure employment is unconscionable. I expect Uber to take swift action to reverse course and commit to treating all employees with dignity and respect."

An Uber spokesperson said that a process has already been developed to avoid discriminating against trans drivers.

"We recognize that for transgender and nonbinary drivers and delivery people, the name and photo on their ID does not always reflect their true identity, and we take their concerns seriously," the spokesperson said. "We are reviewing the city attorneys' letter and look forward to continued collaboration to help ensure our platform is an inclusive experience for everyone."

The city attorneys news release had stated that "While Uber has previously said it would address the concerns raised by transgender drivers, it is not clear whether those statements have led to tangible changes as drivers continue to report facing similar problems with the company's apps."

Updated, 2/4/22: This article has been updated with a comment from Uber.

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