Friendlier Skys for Transgender Pilots

Old Rules for Transgender Pilots

Before the recent ruling by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), trans pilots were required to undergo additional psychological tests: projective, personality, and intelligence. These tests were expensive, tedious, and often had to be financed by the pilots themselves. Because of these extra tests, some pilots failed the added requirements or were grounded.

According to Harper Jean Tobin, director of public policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, the FAA guidelines lacked any rational medical backing, and were vague in their position on trans pilots.

“It was as though someone had said, ‘OK, we don’t know a lot about transgender people, but we think something might be wrong with them, “ Tobin reported to The Advocate Monday.” There’s no particular reason to think that just because someone is transgender or transitioning, they would have developed some kind of cognitive deficits.”

New FAA Requirements for Transgender Pilots

The FAA requires that all pilots receive medical and psychological clearance to fly. The new medical certification procedures for transgender pilots are as follows: the pilot must submit current clinical records together with an evaluation from a psychiatrist or psychologist with experience in transgender issues as well as a post-operative report on any surgery, if applicable.


“This sends a positive signal that being trans shouldn’t create barriers to people being able to perform a highly-skilled job with a lot of responsibility,” confirms Tobin. “We think this is going to make things a lot easier and fairer all the day around.” See (LBTQNation, “FAA eliminates unnecessary psychological testing for transgender pilots, 8/13/12).