Uber is sending out very mixed signals about the company’s inclusiveness regarding transgendered and nonbinary drivers and those aspiring to be. As the Los Angeles Times reports, transgender drivers who attempt to sign up to be drivers, or drivers just trying to update their employee records are getting rejected, even locked out from working or signing up with the gig service.
Aside from the regular requirements of things like being 21 or over, having a registered and insured vehicle, etc., Uber requires a submission of documents that need to be reviewed before one can be approved to be a driver. Among those documents required are a valid driver’s license and an actual photo of yourself. This is where trans drivers are encountering problems. One driver pointed out because they look different from when they transitioned, Uber says their documents are fraudulent.
Escobedo tried at least 20 times to resubmit the records, which included a photo of his face, copies of his ID and proof of car insurance, he said. Each time, they were denied.
“I was very confused as to what was wrong,” Escobedo said. “I thought I was being messed with.”
Then, looking over his documents, Escobedo figured it out: He is a transgender man, and his appearance in his older driver’s license photo does not match the current photos he submitted, showing his wispy mustache and goatee.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California has documented and interviewed drivers who have been rejected by Uber. Not only has the company wrongly rejected these drivers, but it has also done nothing to try and fix the process so that trans and nonbinary drivers can going forward stop getting rejected.
Escobedo had to approach the ACLU so that they could get in contact with Uber to get his account reinstated. And in a turn of irony, these rejections all happened as the company made moves with an announcement to allow trans drivers to update their names and photos. Some of those drivers had already been driving for the company up until that point.
One driver had been working for Uber Eats for more than a year without issue. Prompted by the company’s marketing of a new option allowing transgender drivers to update their names and profile pictures, she resubmitted her documents in late August. Her profile photo was rejected as fraudulent, her account was shut down and she was permanently removed from the platform.
While a spokesperson for the company said it’s working towards reinstating accounts the LA Times and ACLU have inquired about, Uber called the rejection of some trans drivers a “regrettable customer experience.”