Monday, July 30, 2007

some sort of mix-up

This past weekend I had what was probably the most flummoxing and yet most entertaining moment of disclosure that I've ever had. I was at a music festival with my girlfriend, a lesbian couple who are close friends of hers, and a straight woman friend of theirs. The couple are getting married (legally, in Massachusetts) next year, and we were talking about which states allow gay marriage when I mentioned rather casually to Rochelle "You and I could get married anywhere but Texas!"

I was referencing the fact that different states have different rules and regulations around marriage and what sexes may marry each other, and how the sex of each party needs to be 'proven.' Some states (including Texas and Ohio, I think, but probably some others as well) require two people to have birth certificates, one reading male and one reading female. Since my birth certificate still says F on it, Rochelle and I would be out of luck!

The straight woman, who had just met me earlier that day, overheard and asked "Why can't you get married in Texas?"

I figured it was as good a time as any to disclose my trans status, since I had nothing invested in keeping it from her, and said "Because my birth certificate says 'female.'"

There was a brief pause, and then she asked, confusedly, "Why does your birth certificate say female?"

Ha! I was stunned for a second, and came back, probably less diplomatically then I could have done, with "Because I'm a transsexual!" at which comprehension finally dawned on her face, and she said something about "Oh, well, you know, I figured sometimes they make some sort of mix-up on these things." And our mutual friends sort of awkwardly explained to me that they hadn't outed me to her, figuring (quite rightly!) that there was no reason to.

It was a funny reminder that not everyone will automatically be able to overcome the cognitive dissonance of someone whom they'd been reading as male mentioning offhandedly anything about a female past. I was also reminded that I tend to pass as non-trans pretty regularly now, even in crowds (queer/queer-friendly) where I assume that it's possible or probable that I'll get clocked as trans through some combination of factors- small hands, wide hips, sparse facial hair, queer/dyke girlfriend, etc. In this instance, though, not only was she unaware of my transness, even what I thought was a completely revealing statement at first passed right over her head. Heh. Some sort of mix-up indeed! It just took 20 years, thousands of bucks, and some helpful doctors to fix it up.

Though in fact, I haven't fixed it up. I've changed my driver's license and Social Security info, and I intend to apply for a passport this fall- am hoping that those documents plus my top surgeon's letter will let me get an M on there with no problems, despite the fact that my certificate of citizenship has a little 7 yr old girl on it. But I don't intend to change my Canadian birth certificate. I don't have much occasion to trot it out, and I tend to think of it rather as a historical document- they put down F since that's what they thought I was. Now I've grown up and challenged that decision and changed the currently-relevant-to-my-life documents to reflect that, but I don't have much invested in changing the marker on that certificate. No harm done, so long as I don't try to get married in Texas.

1 comment:

vegancheesecake said...

Unless you ever wanted to move permanently to Canada? Or do they not care...