tim: 2x2 grid of four stylized icons: a bus, a light rail train, a car, and a bicycle (public transportation)
I found the following on a sticky note (an electronic one, that is) that I wrote while without wifi on a trip on the Coast Starlight sometime in the past year or so:

"This is like going to the frozen food section while stoned, but paying double for it." -- someone in the cafe car

announcement: "We're turning inland and the reason for that is to get away from some of these more unstable sand dunes." Actually, I thought the reason we were turning inland is because that's where the tracks are.

In Salinas, someone put a bunch of tires on the tracks, which "compromised" the main brake lines so the train had to sit in Salinas for a while while they fixed it. You know what I say to that? Fuck Salinas.
tim: 2x2 grid of four stylized icons: a bus, a light rail train, a car, and a bicycle (public transportation)
Saturday, four days ago, I flew from Vancouver to Minneapolis, spent my layover chatting with my dear friend ADB who had come out to the airport to meet me, and then flew to London on a red-eye. (But not before ending my 31-month streak of never getting either groped or pornoscanned in an airport; there was only one checkpoint open at MSP that Saturday night, with only a scanner option. I had been planning to opt out if that happened, but at the last minute I decided I didn't want a random cis person touching me. In any case, I couldn't think of a better reason to end the streak.)

Sunday, I arrived in London feeling like a zombie, since I'd only slept for about four hours on the plane, if that. Plan A had been to go to a coffee shop for a few hours and noodle around pointlessly on the Internet, I mean catch up on work, I mean... In any case, my laptop was almost dead and the power adapter I'd bought at the airport wasn't grounded, which of course I didn't notice when buying it, in my zombified state. So I collected all my belongings and headed down the road to the Superdrug, where I bought another adapter. Nope, that one wasn't grounded either, and so I embarked on a long, long journey to the Apple store in Covent Garden to get the "world traveler kit". I ended up finding out just how long it can take me to find the Covent Garden market starting out from the Covent Garden tube stop (answer: a long time), and by the time I got back to the coffee shop where I'd planned to meet [livejournal.com profile] jasonelvis, he was waiting there.

After dinner with Jason, Tracey, and their adorable three-year-old, we all agreed that I'd want to collapse... except instead, Jason and I stayed up for a while talking about Debra. I was able to put my tiredness aside, because getting time to talk about her with someone who knew her the way I did was really important to me and meant a lot.

Monday, we accumulated more people and headed out to Bath in various cars. We went to a park and (unexpectedly) saw hot air balloons take off, then Indian take-out food was had and silly TV was watched.

And then, Tuesday, the big event. Prefaced by hat shopping with the three of us guys in our little entourage, since we'd been told that Debra wanted the funeral to reflect her Jewish heritage, though it wouldn't be entirely traditional. So part of that was that the men would cover their heads, and the women would too if they wanted to. That was fine, but none of us had hats. Then it turns out to be difficult to find a funeral-appropriate hat in May, but the clearance rack at Debenhams saved the day.

Fully equipped with hats, we drove the 45 minutes to Bristol and got to the chapel and cemetery, in South Bristol, a bit early but not too early. I met various people who I'd only known from their LiveJournal comments before, and before we knew it, we were being called in for the service. The opening music, "Good Morning Starshine", let us know that this wasn't going to be an entirely traditional funeral. Debra wasn't a traditional person, so that was appropriate.

There were several eulogies, including one delivered by Jason, which captured the playful, caring, bum-joke-loving Debra who I knew. But the moments I remember most clearly were actually the music: Kate Bush's "Feel It" in the middle, and Lemon Jelly's "Space Walk" at the end. Someone had posted a link to "Space Walk" on Debra's Facebook wall soon after she died, and I listened to it in my apartment. Hearing it again at the end of the service took me back to that confused, surreal state.

We milled out to the grave site, which was facing out on a hillside with a really nice view of the river and the green hills beyond. I thought to myself that maybe someday, years from now, I would have some reason to be back in England again, and I would rent a bike and ride from Bristol up to the cemetery; it would be a nice ride. And they laid her in her grave, in a wicker casket, which seemed very fitting.

A group of us went to a pub nearby for lunch afterward, and comics that Debra had been involved in making got passed around; I got to look at some I hadn't seen before. Then we headed to Debra's house to pay our respects to the family and such friends as were still there. Talking to Debra's mother and stepfather, I found myself struggling for words; I found it hard to explain what Debra and I were to each other, and resorted, as so many queer folks do, to the language of "friends". Maybe it's something to do with that whole queer thing of not being able to assume there's a framework your relationships will fit into; maybe it's something to do with how none of it really makes sense if you can't assume the other person understands the notion of deep, meaningful, partially computer-mediated relationships. Probably some of both.

Debra's last LiveJournal post was about hummus. There are worse things one's last LiveJournal post could be about. Or rather... the last one I can see; due to me moving from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth, I'm no longer able to see a lot of her posts that I was able to see before, which is a little sad; I would have liked to re-read her posts from around the first time we met in person, especially.

And then the next morning, Jason did what only a true friend would do and drove me to the airport bus stop at 5:45 in the morning, and eventually I made it back to Vancouver, a place I can't lay any permanent claim on.

"well, it could be love
Or it could be just lust but it will be fun
It will be wonderful"

tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
So, I decided to sell my soul to the Department of Homeland Security and apply for a Nexus card. Both US and Canadian citizens can get one, and it makes it simpler to cross the US/Canada border either by air or land. I was also under the impression that having one is one of the ways to be considered a "trusted traveler" and thus use TSA PreCheck lines at some airports in the US, so it's useful even when traveling within the US. Also, some PreCheck lines are scanner-free and walk-through-metal-director-only, which means no scanning and no groping. Not all of them are, but I figured anything that helps, helps, under the principle that I want to choose who touches certain parts of my body (you wouldn't think that principle would be so radical, but hey).

I applied online back in August, and eventually (they don't send notifications so I had to do this by manually polling the web site online) was invited to appear in person to interview for the card. The only locations where you can do this are near the border, so for me, the closest location was Seattle. The soonest appointment was February 1, 2013; later I tried to see if I can change it as a different date might have been more convenient, but I was offered June as the next available appointment, so I decided to keep it February.

Lesson number 1: if you're applying for a card in Seattle, Sea-Tac is *not* the place to go! I read it quickly, thought "oh, the Seattle airport", booked a hotel near Sea-Tac for the night before, and... the night before, realized my appointment was actually at Boeing Field/King County International Airport (which is also, by the way, a 20-minute walk from the nearest public transit stop). This isn't an issue if (unlike me) you have reading comprehension skills, but don't go to SEA, go to Boeing Field.

I arrived 15 minutes early or so for my appointment, but basically as soon as I sat down in the waiting area, the DHS agent showed up and offered to take my passport and driver's license so she could pull up my file. After a few minutes she came back and brought me inside for the interview. She was very quick and efficient. I had worried about getting asked weird questions relating to the fact that I had two previous legal names, both of which connote a gender that I'm not, but she just asked me to verify that I'd used those names before and I said yes; no comments or weird looks or anything. So that was professional of her, and should hopefully reassure any of you who are trans if you were thinking about applying.

She asked me if I'd ever been arrested, ever been turned away from the border, ever had a DUI, or ever had to go before a judge. I said no to all of them, but more about that later. She explained very briefly how the Nexus and PreCheck programs worked and then took a digital scan of my fingerprints (all ten fingers! Serious business. No toes, though.)

I was told to bring a print-out of my "conditional approval" letter inviting me to apply, so I did, and was never asked for it. It turns out that I also didn't need my car registration, which I brought; being a US citizen, I also didn't need any proof that I live at the address that I claim. (My driver's license and passport were apparently sufficient.) I had been told I would need the car registration if I wanted to cross the border in my car, but the agent said that was outdated info, and I would now be able to cross the border in any car so long as every occupant of the car had a Nexus card.

Then she escorted me outside to wait for the Canadian border agent, who came out to greet me within a few minutes. The Canadian agent was much less friendly. He asked me where I work and for a business card (which I knew to bring, so I had one ready) -- so, if you have business cards, bring them! He asked me why I wanted a Nexus card in sort of a skeptical way -- I explained I was going to Vancouver for job training for about two and a half months, and he ended up asking me a lot of questions about that. So he said "but why do you want a card if you're just going once" and I said I might go to Seattle a few times for weekends to visit friends, which is true, and also that I wanted to use PreCheck lines within the US. He said "but you don't fly!" so I guess they know that? I didn't want to get into the whole "I'm trans and I don't like being groped" thing so I said that I'd been driving and taking the train more because of security lines, and if I was able to get through security quicker, I would fly more (which certainly wasn't a lie, just incomplete).

Then he asked me the same questions about arrests, courts, etc. that the US agent did, but when I said I hadn't been to court, he said, "are you sure?" I said, "Well, I had to go to court a month ago to sue my landlord," and he said, "is that all?" "Well I had a few traffic tickets around 2005, but they were dismissed." "Is that all?" "Well, I also had a misdemeanor around that same time where I had to appear before the judge, but the charges got dropped." "And what was it?" "Hitting a car in a parking lot and leaving the scene. The case got dismissed." "Anything else?" "Yeah, I changed my name, so I had to go to court for that." I said that was really all and he was more or less satisfied at that point. (I don't know what he was seeing in the records.) I'm pretty sure I wasn't forgetting anything! Anyway, the lesson learned here is to say everything in response to this question. I thought at first I didn't need to mention stuff that was dismissed, but I guess it doesn't hurt to say so.

He asked me if I had a letter explaining what the purpose of my training visit was, and I said yes, but only on my laptop (I hadn't thought to print it out since the copy that got shared with me was still a draft) and I tried to pull it up on the screen, but wasn't able to because it was in Google Docs and I didn't have a wifi connection. So, another lesson learned: I should have printed out the letter. I tried to avoid giving too many details about my work visit since the administrative people at my work are still dotting the t's and crossing the i's at this point -- basically just saying that I had been informed by the legal team at work that I wasn't going to need a work visa given the length and nature of the visit -- but he did ask a fair amount of questions about it.

Then he told me that based on the interview, I was eligible, and should be receiving the card in the mail within 5-8 days. The unfortunate part, which I didn't know, is that the US DHS offices don't have the machine to scan your irises; you have to go to Canada to do that. So I'll have to make *another* trip to Vancouver (or, I guess, just do it when I get there for work) to get my irises scanned, which I need to do if I want to use the card at airports (I won't need it if I'm crossing the border overland, but I'm not sure yet if I'm going to drive or fly there for my work visit).

I was not asked whether I'd ever used recreational drugs; based on googling other people's experiences, and also on the security clearance application that I once filled out (which never got processed since I quit the job that required it), I thought that might be a question that would come up. But it didn't -- the only legal things that got asked about were DUIs, arrests, court appearances, and being refused entry to a country.

I also think it was a good decision on my part that I decided to wear my "Stop AIDS Project / Department of Homoland Security" T-shirt yesterday and not today. (I wasn't sure what to wear, but ended up going with an incompetently-ironed (by me) button-down shirt and black khakis, no tie. That seemed to be okay.)

I guess it might seem funny that I was willing to put up with all sorts of indirect privacy invasion in order to buy myself a chance of getting out of the direct privacy invasion of having a government contractor feel up my crotchal area. I feel like it makes sense, though (as a compromise in the horrible society we live in) because I'm privileged enough to have very little to hide (from an illegal-activity point of view); on the other hand, having a cis stranger discover unexpectedly that I have a transsexual body puts me at risk. It's not the same kind of risk that a woman with a transsexual body would undergo in that situation, but it's a risk nonetheless, and one that I claim agency in doing what I can to avoid.

(And also, because I haven't mentioned this: yeah, I'm going to be in Vancouver for about 10 weeks, starting this March 11! I'll be working at the Mozilla Vancouver office and learning about linkers, profiling, build systems, debuggers, and other awesome topics from the one and only Graydon.)
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
My upcoming whereabouts:

  • Boston, Sat. Sept. 18 (evening)-Tues. Sept. 21 (morning)
  • New York City, Tues. Sept 21 (evening)-Thurs. Sept. 23 (evening)
  • Baltimore, Fri. Sept. 24-Sun. Oct. 3
If you live in one of these areas and you want to get together, and I haven't already emailed you, let me know! (In Baltimore I'll be pretty busy with conference stuff but can meet people in places not too far from downtown in the evenings.) Posting this here for the 2 people who'll see it who don't read Facebook.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
I was working some of the exercises from _Conceptual Mathematics_ while waiting to de-planeget off a plane, like you do. A possibly-drunk guy looked at what I was writing in my notebook, read out loud "Given two infinite sets A and B," and started laughing hysterically.

I kind of wish I'd been writing about anal fisting or something.

Also, it seems well nigh impossible to get a beer in O'Hare if you don't want to drink it in a food court.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
I haven't gone out of my way to make a big announcement about this, because it was on and then off and then on again. But it looks like it's for real now, so I should say: I'm taking a leave of absence from my research assistantship to go to Haiti for six weeks to volunteer with Hands On Disaster Response (HODR). Specifically, I'll be in the city of Léogâne, about 11 miles from Port-au-Prince, from July 5-August 15 (except for a required 3-day mental health break, during which I'll be visiting the fabulous [livejournal.com profile] wealhtheow in San Juan).

I heard about HODR through [personal profile] wordweaverlynn, one of whose partners went to volunteer with HODR back in January. I filled out their volunteer application immediately after that, but I didn't think I would be accepted, since I have no relevant skills (except for Web programming and IT, which, yes, they asked about). To my surprise, several weeks later, they replied saying that they had volunteer space available. The answer to "what are you going to be doing there?" (the first question everyone seems to ask me) is "whatever they tell me to do". Mostly, I'm guessing, clearing rubble.

I have asked myself whether I'm a disaster tourist, whether I could be doing more good by donating the money I'm spending on my airfare to Haiti and on related accoutrements to a relevant organization instead. I have no answer to that, but writing checks wouldn't lead anywhere for me, except for possibly writing more checks later on. As a person who is still struggling on whether to follow the career path for which I've been training for most of my life, whose utility is real but often seems rather divorced from the task of remedying injustice, or whether to do something (and what?) to address other people's needs directly, I'm hoping that doing this work might bring a bit of moral clarity. I'm also pretty sure I'll be doing an amount of good that's greater than zero, so I hope that justifies not having figured out what the optimal strategy is for me to put the resources I have to use.

I've also asked myself why I should go to a (somewhat) distant country to volunteer when there's plenty of useful work I could do as a volunteer much closer to home. I don't have a great answer to that either, but I do think that globalization counters the imperative to act locally. For many years, the US has maintained foreign policies towards Haiti (and not just towards Haiti) that have advanced its own economic interests at the price of supporting repressive dictatorships. Because the US economy has benefited as a result, so have I; a rising tide lifts all boats. Spending six weeks clearing rubble is not going to make amends for the ill-gotten gains that I and all other affluent Americans have enjoyed, but maybe it's a start. I, for one, am tired of hearing news coverage about Haiti (not that we're hearing much news anymore) that takes the "How'd that happen?" approach to its poverty. The high standard of living that I enjoy and the low standard of living that most people in Haiti endure are linked. I enjoy what I enjoy at the expense of others. This isn't liberal paranoia or zero-sum cynicism; it's just historical and economic fact. Reading _The Uses of Haiti_ by Paul Farmer drove that point home for me.

So I'm hoping that even if I go ahead and become a computer science professor and spend the rest of my life sipping wine in Corte Madera, having been to Haiti will make me feel just a little bit more uncomfortable about believing in a certain set of technical problems to be the most compelling matter demanding my attention, or about believing that social progress is occurring at a faster rate than the one at which it actually is. I don't know what difference that would really make, but I figure that anything that decreases the amount of denial in the world is a good thing.

Finally, if you think that what I'm doing is a good thing, please express that by making a donation of whatever size you can afford, either to HODR or to Partners in Health, rather than by telling me so. Some people walk or bike or blog to fundraise for a cause -- I'm not doing any of those things, but if it helps, you could think of this as my equivalent of the Blogathon or AIDS Ride or whatever else.
tim: "Bees may escape" (bees)
The forum where I posted this seems to have eaten it, so for posterity and for anyone to whom it might be relevant, here's:

How to change your gender marker on a US passport )
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
I'm ready to go home; I just don't *want* to. Witness:

Well, all the more incentive to finish (and, you know, start) That Darn Dissertation so I can move the hell out of Portland and to somewhere with weather that doesn't make my brain taste like burning. Also, I learned on this trip how awesome biking in LA is. And it could also well be that life is just better when I bike 20-40 miles a day, no matter where I am.

My copious thanks go to [personal profile] miang and [personal profile] tcdohl for housing me, driving me around, and keeping me entertained. It was also great to see [livejournal.com profile] aelcyx, [personal profile] darius, [livejournal.com profile] jholomorphic, [livejournal.com profile] pinkhairedcyn, [livejournal.com profile] substitute, [livejournal.com profile] vera_smith, and others.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Since Facebook is made out of monkeys smoking crack and won't let me post this image, here's where I went biking today:

Definitely better than where I went biking on Friday:

And finally, I'd like to say that LA is a strange place, but this picture was actually in Glendale:
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Hello all,

I'm going to be in the LA area (specifically Glendale) visiting [personal profile] miang and [personal profile] tcdohl from roughly Weds. 12/23 to Sun. 12/27, and from Thu. 12/31 to Mon. 1/4. (In between, I'll be off biking somewhere, unless it rains, in which case I'll be in LA the whole time.) If you are within a 60-mile radius or so, I'd love to see you. I will have access to wheels via Zipcar and can travel reasonably long distances. I've already emailed a couple of the most likely suspects, but if I've forgotten you, it's not deliberate! Let me know.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 12

For winter break, Tim should go to...

View Answers

Boston area, visit his mom
0 (0.0%)

New York City, get his mom to join him there, assuage guilt while avoiding staying in her apartment in Wellesley
6 (50.0%)

Southern California, go biking, lie on beaches
6 (50.0%)

Eastern Oregon comedy checkbox
3 (25.0%)

Visit me! (Not likely to be effective for non-North-America locations.)
3 (25.0%)

1 (8.3%)

tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
I had a layover in Minneapolis, but I didn't see Larry Craig.

The plane from Amsterdam to Minneapolis had individual video screens with video on demand. Despite there being about 60 different movies available, the only one I actually wanted to watch was "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". (I watched it. It was okay, but I think I've now seen enough '80s teen movies for a lifetime. If I feel the need to watch another, I'll just watch "Heathers" again.) I watched the first few minutes each of "State of Play", "Lol" (not kidding), "The Uninvited", and "Two Lovers", all of which seemed crap, before settling on "April Bride" as a second movie. It wasn't bad, but the plane landed about halfway through.

There were also games. There was a trivia game where you could play against other people on the same flight, and it also had an all-time hall of fame with people listed by their seat number and flight number.

Having shown my passport once in Portland, twice in Amsterdam, four times in Bristol, twice in Edinburgh, and once in Minneapolis, I didn't get my gender contested once. So that's good (I guess). This might have been the last time I fly out of or into the US, given recent policy changes.

Now I'm sick, so the quest for a thesis topic will have to wait at least one more day.

Finally, an unrelated random poll )
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
This week I learned that the Transportation Security Administration's new Secure Flight program will require airlines to provide the TSA with passengers' birth dates and genders, in addition to the personal information that airlines already provide, for flights originating in the US.

In the US, trans people often are unable to change the gender markers on their government-issued forms of ID (particular driver's licenses or state ID cards, and passports) to match their gender. A full discussion is beyond the scope of this post, but to keep it concrete, I'll mention that my driver's license and passport both say 'F' right now, though I'm a guy, and changing either one isn't an option for me. (That is to say, I could change both, but changing either would require doing something I can't do in good conscience.)

The fundamental absurdity of including gender on an identification card is that it's not an objectively verifiable property of an individual. We understand that if your ID says you have brown eyes, anyone can verify that by looking at your eyes. We understand that if your ID says you're 5 feet 3 inches tall, anyone can verify that by asking you to stand in front of a measuring stick. If gender is what your brain thinks your body ought to be, then you can't determine someone's gender except by asking them. Since changing your gender marker takes more than a statement of intent, gender markers do not denote a person's internal sense of gender. If the gender marker on an ID is supposed to denote whether the bearer has a penis or has a vulva, then it is not a useful property to list on an ID, since you aren't typically asked to expose your genitalia to prove that you are indeed the person your ID says you are. If the gender marker is supposed to denote whether a person who inspected you when you were born thought you had a penis or had a vulva, then it doesn't denote that property either, since it's possible to change the marker. And if the gender marker is supposed to denote whether the bearer appears more masculine than feminine, or appears more feminine than masculine, it certainly doesn't denote that property: many people, including some who wouldn't describe themselves as being trans, appear masculine even though their birth certificate says they're female, or appear feminine even though their birth certificate says they're male. So what does the gender marker denote?

If you're buying a plane ticket now, you're supposed to provide your gender as listed on your government-issued ID along with all your other information. It's one thing for me to passively carry a card in my pocket that says I'm female even though I'm not -- that's a decision someone else made for me, before i could protest. It's another thing to, actively, check that box that says I'm something I'm not, even time I buy a plane ticket. Every time I lie about who I am, I am a little bit less of a person. I'm also not willing to get someone else to lie for me in order to get my documentation changes. If I can't get my needs met as a person of integrity, then I will forgo getting them met.

I don't think anyone who makes rules like these thinks about how they might most effectively inconvenience transsexual and transgender people. I do think that because we are broadly considered to be non-human (also see: people who are willing to reject a particular health care reform plan just because that plan might provide us with medically necessary care), there is no motivation for rulemakers to consider the effect their policies might have on us. To get people to start thinking of us as human, we have to make ourselves visible and we have to resist. To be complicit with a false characterization of yourself just because that's what's more convenient for you is to move to the back of the bus: understandable on an individual level, but counterproductive on a mass level.

That means that next time I book airline tickets, I'll be listing my gender correctly as "male"; if I'm harassed either at the airport or beforehand because my ID doesn't match my gender, I'll deal with the consequences. But I won't be quiet and respectful. And if need be, I'll stop travelling by air altogether or will fly out of Vancouver, B.C.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
The scene: Midway Airport, about 1:20 PM on Independence Day 2009.

I walk up to the TSA worker in the "Expert Traveler" line and show my driver's license and boarding pass. She shines the little purple light on it that presumably lights up with the letters "tErRoRiSt" at appropriate times. She hesitates.

She calls one of her colleagues over and they turn away from me, holding my ID and boarding pass and whispering.

I know what it's about. It's never happened to me before, but for a year and a half, my license has said "Chevalier, Timothy Jan" underneath the picture and "F" underneath where it says "sex". It was just a matter of time. I hear one of them whispering to the other "it's one of the things they tell us to look for..." and the other says "...but we're not allowed to ask them..."

She asks me to step over to the desk on the side. A third guy comes up and asks me whether I prefer "Mr." or "Mrs." Choosing for now not to point out the incompleteness of his list, I said "Mr." He looks almost as if he's expecting me to explain, but I don't think I need to explain anything. "But it says here..." I may have cocked an eyebrow at this point. "Is it an error?" "No." [pause] "It's my legal sex." (In retrospect, I shouldn't even have volunteered that.)

"Do you have a previous name you used?" he asks me. I was on the verge of answering, and then the voice in my head said, "Fuck, you don't have to answer that question." I asked "Are you allowed to ask that question?" He said they had to verify my ID. I asked if there was a supervisor I could talk to. He said he was the supervisor -- wrong answer.

After asking me how I say my middle name, he asked me to sit on the window ledge while they waited for a fourth person to come. He asked me if I had another ID. I gave him my Portland State ID.

Fourth person came. "Is it an error?" "It's not an error." "Well, because it says 'F' but you said you prefer 'Mister'..." (Well, what? I think.) I didn't say anything. She and the "supervisor" looked at each other. She said "I think it's okay" and shrugged. She walked away.

The "supervisor" gave me back my IDs. He asked me whether I'd ever had a problem before. I said "no", truthfully. He said "well, you should have that error corrected." (I'd said it wasn't an error, twice.) I said that legally, it was impossible for me to change it. I'm not sure what he thought. He let me go through security.

I was lying when I said it was impossible -- in Oregon, your driver's license can have whatever gender marker you like (as long as it's "M" or "F") as long as you get a letter from a DMV-approved therapist affirming that your gender is really what you think it is.

Read that again: "DMV-approved therapist".

I don't want to give my tacit approval to a system that says it's the state (and its approved therapists), not me, that knows what sex my brain expects my body to be. If I don't change my mind about that, I'd better start budgeting an extra half an hour when I go to the airport.

I think it's important to stand up for your rights. I like an opportunity to kick ass and take names as much as any other guy does. That doesn't mean I relish the threat of public humiliation. I was shaking when I got to the place for taking my boots off and my laptop out.

I have multiple friends (some who are trans, some who are cis) who've been strip-searched for less.

I'm going to Europe in two months. Getting the gender marker on your passport changed is more difficult than getting an Oregon driver's license changed. To change it, I would have to submit a letter that says that I have "completed sex reassignment surgery". Many cissexual women have breast reduction surgery; the surgery that I just had is substantially similar to breast reduction. It's unclear whether the US Passport administration would consider my surgery "sex reassignment surgery", and there are no clear published guidelines that suggest either that they would, or that they wouldn't. Passport change evaluation is opaque.

This is what my boarding pass looked like after the four TSA workers got done with it. I guess the initials "AS" mean "we checked this person's gender and determined they weren't a terrorist based on that."

If you travel by air, do you feel safer after reading this story?


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

December 2018

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