Trans army vet laid off during the pandemic denied unemployment benefits because state refuses to recognise her new name

Nick Duffy
·2-min read

A transgender military veteran says she is being denied unemployment benefits because the state of Illinois is refusing to recognise her new name.

Myra Lebron, a former cyber network operator for the US Marine Corps, was laid off from her civilian IT job in June as her employer downsized because of the pandemic.

But the Chicago woman says she has struggled to gain the unemployment benefit she is entitled to, because the Illinois Department of Employment Security has refused to recognise her new name.

Lebron legally changed her name on her social security card and driver’s license earlier this year, but she told CBS 2 that state officials have rejected her application for support because the name on record with her past employer doesn’t match her name now.

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

Lebron has provided all her documentation to the state body, adding: “I submitted all my name change information.”

The Chicago military veteran is one of many people without work during the pandemic
The Chicago military veteran is one of many people without work during the pandemic (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

However, she remains stuck in the system waiting for an answer, the outlet reports.

In the meantime, Lebron added: “I’ve been doing side jobs, like cleaning houses, for $20, $40, $50.”

The Illinois Department of Employment Security is yet to comment on the report.

Illinois has made some progress on trans issues.

Despite these issues, Illinois has pushed through a number of trans-inclusive reforms in recent years.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, as of 2018 the state will update the gender marker on an Illinois birth certificate upon receipt of a declaration by a licensed health care professional.

In 2019, the state’s governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill that permits gender neutral “X” designations be added to all state forms.

Pritzker also signed an order directing the Illinois State Board of Education to take steps towards supporting transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming students in schools.

At the time, he said: “While the LGBTQ community has so much to celebrate, we must also recognize that the trans community that ignited this movement has been left out of many of its victories.

“Visibility and acceptance for non-cisgender people are on the rise, but so are attacks of hate, particularly against Black trans women.”

“We’re taking one more step toward securing Illinois’ place as a leader in equality and hope.”