tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
[personal profile] tim
I'm taking time off during a workday to write this, but damn it, if I don't, I'm just going to explode here.

About midway through 2011, when it looked like there was a good chance I was staying in California for a while, I went to get a California's driver's license. I had had a CA license before, using my former legal name. This time, I checked off male as my gender, since I had my passport with me (which I'd already had corrected) and nobody was likely to question that I was male. The worker at the DMV looked up my old records when I said I'd previously had a driver's license in CA (I didn't mention that my name was different, since he didn't ask) but he didn't find anything. A week later or so I got a new CA license in the mail.

An entire year later, I got a letter in the mail from the DMV asking me to submit a DL-329 form to change my gender, with a threat that my driver's license would be invalidated three weeks from the date of the letter if I didn't do this. (They took a year to figure out they'd made a mistake, but gave me three weeks to address the issue.) I called the number on the letter, and talked to a person who works for the Records and Security Division. She explained that because there were two entries for people with the same Social Security number but different names and genders (my old name and my new name), that looked as if there were two people using the same Social Security number. To prove that these were the same person, I sent them a copy of my legal name change decree from five years ago, as well as my passport. That was about a month ago.

Since I'm buying a car, I wanted to check that my license was still valid, so I called the person I talked to before again. She said that she had received the documents, but if I didn't submit a DL-329 form, the DMV would invalidate my current license and I would have to go get a new license with an 'F' gender marker. I asked her if it was correct that she was asking me to carry a driver's license that says I'm female, and a passport that says I'm male, and she said that was correct. I asked how she expected me to prove that I should have an 'F' gender marker, since when I went to the DMV the worker would clearly see that I present as male. She said I should bring a copy of my birth certificate. I asked if it's correct that California disregards federal law by requiring people to have a different gender on their ID than the gender on their federal government ID. She said yes.

I am not up for debating why I don't want to fill in the DL-329 form and I will delete any comments that try to argue with me about this. I don't agree with the idea that either the motor vehicle registry or a doctor is more qualified to assess whether my "demeanor" is "male" or "female" than I am. I also don't know what it means to have a "male" or "female" demeanor. If I put barrettes in my hair, does that make my demeanor "female"? I don't think the DMV or anyone who was involved in making the law that underlies this form knows what it means to have a "male" or "female" demeanor, either.

Besides that, it's sex discrimination to subject trans people to a process of having their "demeanor" assessed as male or female just to be able to drive a car (and what if your demeanor is neither male nor female?), when cis people aren't required to prove what their gender is or get a doctor's signature to prove their demeanor is male or female.

So, now I have the options of either not only not driving, but not having any government ID other than my passport; or turning in my current driver's license in exchange for one with the wrong gender on it. I honestly don't understand why California feels the need to have a definition of what gender I am that's different from the federal government's definition. (Yeah, I know legal gender doesn't actually exist and is just a name to cover up a process of institutionalized bullying -- that's sort of the point.)

I don't see why I can't just keep my driver's license the way it is, especially given that having the correct gender on my license for the past year hasn't harmed anyone.

I would like suggestions, but "ask _____", where the blank is filled in with any well-known trans rights organization, is not going to cut it. Sorry. All the organizations that I know of appear to think that the current process is just fine and there's nothing wrong with making trans people, but not cis people, fill out a DL-329 form to get correct ID. If you have actual evidence that this isn't so, please share, but otherwise, yes, it has already occurred to me to talk to whatever organization you're thinking of, and no, I don't think that's going to work. Many trans people are happy with the current system of gatekeeping and don't see a reason to change that. I just don't see why anyone should have to fill out a demeaning and dehumanizing form just to be able to drive a car or, less than that, write a check or buy liquor. And as I said, I'm not up for debating this, only for receiving practical suggestions about solving the problem at hand. As such, all comments are screened.

I'm also wondering what happens if I correct my birth certificate before going to the DMV, and thus have no documentation left to show that "proves" I'm female (let's not talk about the absurdity to have to prove something that's false in order to get a driver's license). Unfortunately, Massachusetts's requirements involve proof of what they erroneously call "sex reassignment surgery", and while I happen to have that, I don't want to tacitly approve of a system that says that having surgery changes people's sex or gender, which it doesn't do. Then again, is it a lesser evil to supply proof of surgery in order to get a correct birth certificate that I can then use to buffalo California and their unarguably more objectionable rules?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-04 01:33 am (UTC)
ranyart: (cactus)
From: [personal profile] ranyart
I don't have any helpful suggestions, but I sympathize with you. I think the DL-329 form is really messed up and I'm still furious at my NC doctor (the trans-friendly doctor!) who wouldn't mark the "completed" box on my form because I hadn't had a hysterectomy. She said the form was for my protection/best interests but I couldn't get her to explain that in a way that made sense to me.
So yeah, I went along with it; I don't have a passport at this point and I would rather deal with the ridiculous form than have a license with an F on it at this point. But I totally understand your unwillingness to fill it out.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-04 10:09 pm (UTC)
ranyart: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ranyart
Yeah, I'm excited about testosterone putting a stop to ovulation (and what looks like a pretty likely hysto in my future sometime) because I definitely don't want to reproduce, but it's really gross to require it or do anything else to reinforce the idea that trans folks are damaged/sick/unstable/immoral/etc. enough that they aren't capable of having or raising children.

Also, it's irritating that I can't even change the sex on my birth certificate since I was born in Ohio. I don't really care in some ways (I consider my sex to be pretty much irrelevant to any aspect of my personal life or identity), but it means extra paperwork headaches.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-05 04:16 am (UTC)
ranyart: (finding the path)
From: [personal profile] ranyart
My understanding is that Ohio is one of the few states that doesn't allow changes for any reason. =(

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-04 07:15 am (UTC)
wordweaverlynn: (courtesy)
From: [personal profile] wordweaverlynn
Who the hell drives with their genitalia?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-04 07:15 am (UTC)
juli: hill, guardrail, bright blue sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] juli
Well, it seems like you do have an opportunity to intervene here by changing your birth certificate. So you could challenge the system with a pretty solid basis and possibly get them to roll back a rule that's problematic, or at least establish some precedent for others to challenge it. Letting California win here and otherwise keeping the status quo to avoid giving tacit approval seems needlessly self-sacrificing. Give tacit approval and explicit disapproval — get things changed with Mass., and send them letters saying that they shouldn't require the proof they're requiring. Call California on their bullshit about how obviously you can be expected to prove you're female despite the evidence to the contrary. That has to stop.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-04 07:45 am (UTC)
juli: hill, guardrail, bright blue sky (Default)
From: [personal profile] juli
Almost certainly by mail, but I've heard from perhaps the same person that Mass. can tend to be kind of backwards about such things in a sort of hokey New England "we have town halls! all politics is local! it's all so personal and charming!" way. If not by mail, then I'd be shocked if a lawyer couldn't do it for you remotely, but then again cost of lawyer vs. cost of plane tickets, especially with some kind of price alert opportunistic thing.

If you can get something useful out of your situation, either for you or for others, that's awesome. I'm happy to provide whatever kind of support I can. I guess the question is how urgently you need this done, and how much interaction with the Commonwealth you want to have over it. Start trying to get the CA person on-the-record either in writing or in vox (without violating any relevant wiretapping laws.) Especially when it comes to requiring you to prove something that cis people aren't required to prove, or something impossible to prove and which contradicts all your other documentation, and all because they have a bureaucratic allegiance to requiring that specific form to be used, since now there's a process and they can't cope with anything outside of it. That's just plainly wrong. Ugh.

I want to go on at excessive length about how many ways this is wrong and upsetting. I'm sorry you have to deal with this.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-05 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anemone.livejournal.com
One way to deal with phone conversations you want documented is to mail a summary of the phone conversation to the person you spoke to. That is, "We spoke on _____ in regards to _____. My understanding is that __________. "

I don't know if that'd be useful in this circumstance.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-04 04:38 pm (UTC)
epershand: An ampersand (Default)
From: [personal profile] epershand
Ugh, just incoherent rage on your behalf. >:( Legal systems: largely there to make your life harder, it seems. Sigh.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-05 06:23 pm (UTC)
epershand: An ampersand (Default)
From: [personal profile] epershand
This is a total shot in the dark, but it occurs to me that in an identity-theft-related circumstance some time back, the local Social Security information gave me an generic endorsed letter to the effect of "the ambiguity in your records is wrong. This is the right person for that Social Security number." I was then able to send that out to any banks, colleges, etc. who thought that I was trying to steal the identity of the person who'd been using my social security number for several years before I turned 18.

If the DMV aren't being disingenuous assholes with their claims that they want you to jump through hoops for purely social-security reasons (a bad assumption, I realize), perhaps the SSA might be able to provide you with something similar?

Taking a look at what I've got, it's form SSA-2458, "Report of Confidential Social Security Benefit Information", with the "Other" box checked and the words "Social Security #[number] is assigned to [name]" written in it.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-08-09 11:03 am (UTC)
ext_17921: (Default)
From: [identity profile] lindseykuper.livejournal.com
I wondered why you were talking about "demeanor" until I went and looked at the form. Now I feel ill. That form, and the whole situation, is fucked.

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tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Tim Chevalier

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