Filling Out Forms

Queen Emily, who is guestblogging at Feministe, hates forms. Why? Because while “my birth certificate says I am male, my gender presentation is female. They do not match. Until I can afford expensive genital surgery, I cannot change the marker on my birth certificate.” If you’ve never had to think about exactly how much trouble this can cause, consider yourself lucky:

“A small example: Imagine you went to the hospital, with stroke-like symptoms (it was later found to be “complicated migraines”). Because you want to actually be treated, you do not out yourself as transsexual. When the triage nurse filled in the forms, he puts female, and you leave it there. (…)

Fast forward to a week later, and I’m (sorry, you) at a neurology department to see a specialist to organize an MRI, when one of the reception people comes out to see you and starts screaming that you’re a GODDAMN LIAR because your forms say I’m female but some quirk of the computer system has found your birthdate and surname and pinged up an old treatment from when you were six. Because of this, they decide that your name isn’t real either, and it takes three trips to different departments with your changed birth certificate (changed in name but not in sex). In the end, they put a post-it on your file, with your name, your legal bloody name, in quotation marks like it’s a f*cking nickname. And these are the people who are supposed to help you.

Now imagine what happens in an emergency situation.

Imagine you’re me, six months before this, and you’re young and naive and full of stupid, figuring that putting M will help them you treat you better (ha!), checking yourself in to see a doctor because you’re struggling to breathe. And the dude takes one look at your forms and your barely passing self, and refuses to enter the room. He just stands there at the edge, asking you to holler symptoms at him, and you sit there knowing that if you collapse, this man will pause and debate whether to save you or not.”

Read the rest. It gets worse. There are customs lines, and traffic stops, at any one of which someone could look at you, look at your driver’s license, and decide that you’re a fraud, or a freak, or whatever their minds might come up with to explain the anomaly of someone who presents as one gender carrying a driver’s license or birth certificate that says something different.

In comments, someone wrote that the local public transportation system requires little M or F stickers on their monthly passes, and that “an acquaintance of mine (a trans woman) was *arrested* because a bus driver, convinced that she was “male” (she had an “F” sticker), called the police.”

I’m trying to think of a reason why any bus or subway system needs to specify gender on its monthly passes. I can’t think of a single one.

And it’s not as though there are ways of avoiding this situation. Even assuming that you live in a state that lets you legally change your gender, that requires gender reassignment surgery, and gender reassignment surgery normally requires, among other things, living as the gender you identify with, completely, for a year. That’s a year during which traffic stops, doctor’s visits, and the like will be very problematic.

The reason I write about trans issues is that I really can’t see how any of this will change until non-trans people really stop and think about things like this. once you do stop to think about it, it’s barbaric that doctors and hospitals would be unprepared to deal with trans people, or that whenever you have to tick a little box that says M or F, there’s a real possibility that someone will realize that your gender presentation and your ID don’t match, and freak out about that. It’s even worse that mollifying them, if it’s possible at all, will require divulging a whole lot more about the state of your genitalia and the details of your personal life than anyone should ever have to explain to, say, a bus driver or a traffic cop.

I’m just hoping that maybe that doctor or traffic cop might read Queen Emily’s post, and think again.

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