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Essay Law/Legal Nonfiction Other Social Sciences

The Afterlife of Data: Identity, Surveillance, and Capitalism in Trans Credit Reporting

By Lars Z. Mackenzie, 2017

Credit reports, once solely used to determine individual creditworthiness, have in the past several decades become a tool for authentication processes not directly related to one’s capacity to take on debt, namely, in rental housing and employment applications. When trans people change their first names to better align with their gender identities, they often become illegible to credit reporting systems. In this article, the author examines online discussion board posts about trans people’s experiences with their credit reports, arguing that the issues trans people encounter illuminate the complex logics of neoliberal capitalism, predatory lending, and the “afterlife” of identification data enabled by big data surveillance.

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