Metro Weekly

Transgender veteran says Illinois is denying her unemployment benefits due to name change

Myra Lebron says the Illinois Department of Employment Security refuses to recognize her legal name change

trans, transgender, illinois, veteran
Photo: Igal Ness, via Unsplash

A transgender military veteran from Illinois claims that the Illinois Department of Employment Security is denying her unemployment benefits due to a recent name change.

Myra Lebron, an IT worker, became unemployed in June after the company she was working for downsized due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Lebron has obtained a Social Security card and a driver’s license reflecting her correct name and gender marker, she did not officially change her name until July, when state government offices were closed.

Unfortunately, because her new name, reflecting her gender identity, does not match the name on record with her past employer, the Illinois Department of Employment Security refuses to recognize the name and has held up her unemployment checks for weeks, reports CBS Chicago.

As a result, Lebron has been doing side jobs, like cleaning houses, for smaller amounts of money, in order to survive.

She contends she provided all the proper documentation proving the name change, but it’s the IDES bureaucracy that’s hampering her from receiving the benefits for which she’s eligible. She says she’s frustrated by the delay. 

“To finally get the name change process finish and continue with my transition, something I hoped for so many years, just to get smacked with all of this,” she said. “It eats away at you, to a heavy degree.”

A spokesperson for IDES was not immediately available for comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s Chicago office told CBS Chicago the organization was not aware of similar denials occurring to other transgender people, but remained “concerned” about Lebron’s allegations.

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