Metro Weekly

Uber Eats apologizes after being accused of outing trans drivers to customers

The company will no longer require transgender drivers to display their legal names, potentially outing them to customers

Uber Eats
Uber Eats — Photo: eggbank via Unsplash

Uber Eats has changed a policy that required drivers to display their legal name in its app, after being accused of forcing trans drivers to out themselves to customers.

Laine Repic, an Uber Eats driver in Kansas, drafted the help of the ACLU of Kansas after he started to face harassment from some customers who realized that he is a transgender man.

Uber Eats required Repic to display his legal name, which essentially outed him to customers given it didn’t match his gender identity. He said that had resulted in “demeaning comments” and decreased tips.

Repic told the Associated Press that it was “scary” to drive around worrying that he could face discrimination while delivering orders.

“While nobody was physically, violently attacking me, these microaggressions they eat at you over and over and over again… I shouldn’t have to tell my life story and I shouldn’t have to be forced back into the closet because of that,” Repic said.

“It wears on you, it’s draining, it’s tiring, it’s demeaning because it’s like you are not being taken seriously,” he continued. “Having to fight for your own identity, it absolutely takes a mental toll on you. And this was my breaking point.”

Repic tried contacting Uber Eats, but received no response. He then contacted the ACLU of Kansas, who drafted a letter to the company telling them that in addition to “possibly violating state and federal law, forcing transgender UberEats drivers to deliver under their dead names is bad policy.”

The ACLU said UberEats’ policy “needlessly places transgender drivers at risk of harassment, degradation, and violence.”

Specifically, they said Repic had “endured demeaning comments and felt fearful for his safety because his displayed name does not match his male gender or presentation.”

“Additionally, Mr. Repic believes that UberEats’ outing of his transgender status has led to decreased tips and ride opportunities, which are essential to him making money in this role.”

The ACLU urged the company to “change this problem and update its technology to avoid violating state and federal laws and to ensure the safety and dignity of its transgender drivers in Kansas and beyond.”

In a statement to the Associated Press, Uber apologized to Repic for his experience, and said that the company’s app had been updated to fix the problem.

“We recognize that for transgender and non-binary drivers and delivery people, the name on their ID does not always reflect their true identity,” Uber said. “That’s why we recently announced they can choose to display their self-identified first name, without requiring the display of their legal name.”

In addition, Uber said it would establish a fund to aid both Uber and Uber Eats drivers in covering the costs of updating their state and federal ID to accurately reflect their name and gender.

“I’m glad they did this and hopefully they will get those systems in place,” Repic said in response. “It shouldn’t have taken all this to get there.”

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