There existed a solid and comfortable little land; one of mountains and green hills, coffee shops and bicycles. But, by some curious chance one morning in the quiet of this world, when there was less noise and more green and the trannies n’ friends were still numerous and prosperous (I may be exaggerating just a little here), a great dark cloud emerged and a thunder roared from the not so-distant land of Herriman, Utah.
Alone in this dark world lay a little sanctuary called the Ching Farm Animal Rescue. There was a time when this sanctuary experienced a peace and calm in this land, but a dark and hyper conservative undercurrent had begun to consume it piece by piece, building and pillaging, and in no time at all it was covered with strip malls, cookie cut neighborhoods, golf courses and, right across the little dirt road, an LDS church. All surround the little green sanctuary and its animal friends, now being forced to sell and move as soon as they possibly can.
From this conquered land this terrible force has turned its attention to more frontiers. Waiting, biding its time, it has now reared its head, eyes directed towards our peaceful land.
Enter scene Representative Wimmer who boarded a dark chariot, traveled along crackly, cobbled streets all the while whipping his horses and cackling the most malicious of all malicious cackles to deliver a bill this morning; HB 225, which will be considered by the Utah legislature this year (you can read about it here). It looks as though it will require people to prove that they have completed surgery before they can change their gender on a Drivers License or other ID card.
Thy' bill is bullshit! There's already a statute regarding gender change in Utah that does NOT require expensive and dangerous surgery that isn't easily attainable to everyone:
26-2-11. Name or sex change -- Registration of court order and amendment of birth certificate.Oooo this makes my stunning man muscles tense. Mr. Wimmer seems to see no problem making gender identification an economic issue and adding to a pile of discriminatory problems trans people already have to face legally and socially, especially in Utah. For example, surgery can cost tens of thousands of dollars and many transsexual people live in poverty due to prejudice and discrimination. It’s really difficult for a lot of people in transition mode to find work and often transsexuals lose family support.
(1) When a person born in this state has a name change or sex change approved by an order of a Utah district court or a court of competent jurisdiction of another state or a province of Canada, a certified copy of the order may be filed with the state registrar with an application form provided by the registrar.
(2) (a) Upon receipt of the application, a certified copy of the order, and payment of the required fee, the state registrar shall review the application, and if complete, register it and note the fact of the amendment on the otherwise unaltered original certificate.
(b) The amendment shall be registered with and become a part of the original certificate and a certified copy shall be issued to the applicant without additional cost.
I'm going to rant for a moment here, in a convoluted sort of inarticulate random way, so bear with me.
The reality is that we live in a society that is fearful of people who's gender isn't clear from the outset (especially who are outed as transsexual). It can be difficult to find any venues of economic/social support and a lot of social situations can be very scary and uncomfortable. For example, this proposed bill would make it so that my license will misrepresent my lived gender and would forcibly "out" me and other trans people wherever (s)he needs to show the license - when stopped by police, in bars and restaurants, while filling out forms for employers, etc. This completely violates the privacy of trans people and puts us at risk for bias-motivated harassment and violence (from a state perspective, former names and legal gender are always listed on an individual's record and it's impossible to hide that).
Back to the economic concern, transitioning is expensive. Therapy, for example, is a route taken by many of us for one, specific reason: to get “the letter.” I know that this a LOT of the reason I went. The letter, by the way, is essentially a diagnosis from the therapist that says, in effect, "This person is transsexual. Treat the individual as is necessary." This is usually necessary in order to obtain surgery and/or hormone treatment. Which then means that a lot of transsexuals go into therapy with no specific problem or need other than to have a therapist insure that they (a) know what they're doing, (b) are competent to know who they are and self-diagnose their own transsexualism and (c) provide them a letter which they can give to public officials for the purpose of changing one's name, legal identity, etc.
What this means, though, is that a lot of people who are already statistically impoverished are lead into therapy who don't necessarily need any therapy. Even if a person is mentally sound and able to make decisions competently, we’re expected to pay for therapy sessions whether we need or want them only to ensure that we know what we’re doing. This costs a lot of money.
With surgery, which this bill wants to make an absolute requirement in order to legally transition, it is not always a part of the transition process. Some times there are health problems that make it unfeasible, or there are financial issues, or it's not desired for whatever other reasons.
The economic concern is just one little piece of the pie that gets my blood a boilin’. Surgery can also have fatal health consequences.
Considering all of the concerns involved, I can't help but feel like it’s excessive and unfair for a judiciary to require it, especially while there are other medical methods for sexual transition, primarily hormone therapy. And how there are gate keepers already, medical authorities and therapists who can respect the patient's privacy while also attesting to the fact that the individual is trans.
While I'm sure that Wimmer will make mythological arguments that sound plausible to people who misunderstand trans people, this bill has no rational or fair foundation aside from simply being discriminatory. The statute we already have regarding this requires the individual to stand before a Judge who either grants or denies based on other criteria - history, therapist evaluation, etc., - which hasn't been a problem or hurt anyone.
There’s also such a thing as the “non-op transsexual”, like me. What this means is that some transsexuals go so far as the hormone therapy and electrolysis and discover that they can be happy with themselves without requiring dangerous and expensive surgery. This is especially common for female-to-male trans people (for whom the surgery is often ineffective and, if I haven’t ground this point in hard enough, prohibitively expensive).
In my own situation, when I hit a point in my transition where I’m perceived as a cisgender male a lot of complications will arise legally, socially, and medically while having ‘female’ on my license. Even though I self-identify as genderqueer, legally I will desire to identify as ‘male’ in order to make my life safer and to reduce the amount of social/medical/job complication I experience. This will also afford me the opportunity to "out" myself as transsexual in environments that are as safe as possible and not compromising.
I'm also thinking that, on a state level, this proposed bill will cause a lot of damage. For example, any identification that describes gender based strictly on a person's genitalia will often fail to represent and describe a trans person's appearance. This failure is most concerning for police, who need accurate identification to locate and identify suspects and witnesses. For instance, if a trans woman is suspected of committing a crime, but is living in a gender incongruous with the one listed on her identification card, police may not be able to identify her because they are looking for someone who's appearance is traditionally male. I'm hoping this particular concern is something Wimmer would care about, who is a retired police officer himself.
I understand that Wimmer and his allies are motivated out of fear and ignorance, thinking that there are going to be dangerous people who change their legally recognized gender identities willy nilly, but their concerns aren't based in reality. There have been ZERO problematic incidents and there are already "gate keepers" that can attest to someone being transsexual prior to ID change and a process in Utah that works for the state and trans people.
Anyway, I’m going to go find my little wooden sword and mount my bicycle steed and whine about this a whole bunch. I’m going to contact my trans-friendly representatives (like Christine Johnson and Scott McCoy) about what can be done to help and will bring it up at the next Trans Action meeting to toss around ideas about what tranny folk and friends can do to prevent this craptacular anti-trans bill from passing. I know that the Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah are already taking action.