I hate it, every single time. Name, sorted. Then… clunk. Sex – M or F. Sod.
It seems like an easy question, right? For most people it is. For me, it should be an easy question. I live and identify unequivocally as female. I’m not a genderqueer person for whom the very either/or question is wrong. So why the rising sense of panic?
The problem is this, 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. No matter what I put, in a cissexist world, I am situated as a liar.
Now imagine what you do in a Customs line when you enter a country. Imagine you’ve heard from acquaintances who’ve been turned away by the US, or that worst-case-scenario lurking at the back of your head about Homeland Security issuing a memo about “cross-dressed terrorists.” What do you put then? What do you wear then? How do you present?
Imagine how vulnerable you feel. Driving (what if a cop pulls me over). At the bank (what if they think I’m trying to scam my own money). At the doctors. At school. At work. At anywhere they want a piece of ID, anywhere they want you to tick a box that divides humanity into two. Anywhere they want you to fill out a form. Confess, little tranny girl, confess. Tell them what in their minds what you “really” are. Or else. And they’ll get you anyway.
I’ve been thinking about this sort of thing all week, because I’m flying to DC tonight, and Queen Emily’s post sort of sums up what I’ve been worrying about. And, unfortunately, I would say it’s not entirely unreasonable that I’m stressed.
I know that I am damn lucky I’ve had extremely minimal and superficial experiences with direct transphobia, most of it revolving around cluelessness rather than straight-out bigotry or maliciousness. Likewise, I know that I do still exercise a lot of privilege in non-gender related areas: I’m white, I’m middle-class, and I’m the daughter of a lawyer, all of which combine to make me a troublemaker when it comes to knowing my rights and not taking things lying down.
But that doesn’t really hep with on-the-street bigotry. And even though it does reassure me that, eventually, I’d get anything with TSA or airport security cleared up, it doesn’t mean they can’t hold me for hours and hours or make my life hell for a while.
For tonight, I bought my tickets in my male (legal..) name, as I my name change won’t be finalized until July 20. I’ll be changing after work into baggier clothing, pulling my hair back, and knowing that this is going to be a lose/lose situation: If I pass as male, I’ll be disappointed that it was so easy and, if I don’t, it’ll most likely be because someone’s complaining about my documentation.
Hopefully, this will be straightened out by my August trip – I’ll have updated documentation – but it’ll still be stressful to have genitals that don’t match what a close-up security search might expect.