Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gender Confusion

To which gender does a transgendered individual who started out male but who hasn't yet undergone the surgery that would complete the gender transformation process belong? For identification purposes, should the individual be identified in official documents as male, the gender at birth and the nature of the person's genitalia, or as female, the gender the person identifies with and dresses as, but which, genitally-speaking, s/he may never become?

That thorny question is at the heart of this Reuters story about transgendered New Yorkers who find themselves at odds with those who process birth certificates:
A group of transgender residents filed a lawsuit against New York City over what they say are burdensome requirements for them to change the gender on their birth certificates.

The city's birth certificate requirements amount to discrimination for transgender residents, said Noah Lewis, an attorney representing the residents in the case.

New York's Health Department requires residents to show proof of surgical procedures in order to change the gender status on a birth certificate.

But the lawsuit, filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund in state Supreme Court on behalf of three residents, said many transgender people cannot afford the surgical procedures.

Instead, a note from a doctor verifying someone's transgender status should be sufficient, it said...
That's it? A doctor's note saying Sam is now Sheila, and that's that?

Aside from considerations of being sensitive to this particular group, in the age of terrorism, doesn't that sound like something that could possibly be used to the advantage of a clever jihadi? If I can imagine a dude who's looking to blow stuff up giving a fake tale of gender confusion to a trusting doctor so he can get a note saying he's a chick, use it to get official documentation, and then try to hide an explosive in the capacious folks of Islamic gal-bag wear. And if I can conceive of such a thing, surely the jihadis and their masters can, too.

That aside, is gender less a matter of physical reality than it is of seeing oneself as belonging to the other gender, physical reality be damned? A question that requires a lot more study, I think.


island breezes said...

This conundrum is easily solved by the new theory being propounded by the BC 'Teachers' Federation, the UK and elsewhere.. gender is fluid - therefore irrelevant!

(See BCTF funded report here :

Today girlish, tomorrow boyish, Monday fluttering...

scaramouche said...

Gender is fluid and, being a chick of a certain age, so is my bladder.

Carlos Perera said...

Does the "You are what you feel you are" trope work for domains other than gender identity? Sometimes I feel that I'm the real Bill Gates. Shouldn't that entitle me to all of the account numbers and passwords required to access his investments?