I hate it, every single time. Name, sorted. Then… clunk. Sex – M or F. Sod. It seems like an easy question, right? For most people it is. For me, it should be an easy question. I live and identify unequivocally as female. I’m not a genderqueer person for whom the very either/or question is wrong. So why the rising sense of panic? The problem is this, my birth certificate says I am male, my gender presentation is female. They do not match. Until I can afford expensive genital surgery, I cannot change the marker on my birth certificate. No matter what I put, in a cissexist world, I am situated as a liar.
A small example: Imagine you went to the hospital, with stroke-like symptoms (it was later found to be “complicated migraines”). Because you want to actually be treated, you do not out yourself as transsexual. When the triage nurse filled in the forms, he puts female, and you leave it there. All is fine, the doctor for once treats you seriously, possibly because of the presence of your mum, aunt and cousin (quick lesson you learn when dealing with doctors while trans: there’s safety in cis scrutiny. Bring your mum or your partner with you into the examination room).
Fast forward to a week later, and I’m (sorry, you) at a neurology department to see a specialist to organize an MRI, when one of the reception people comes out to see you and starts screaming that you’re a GODDAMN LIAR because your forms say I’m female but some quirk of the computer system has found your birthdate and surname and pinged up an old treatment from when you were six. Because of this, they decide that your name isn’t real either, and it takes three trips to different departments with your changed birth certificate (changed in name but not in sex). In the end, they put a post-it on your file, with your name, your legal bloody name, in quotation marks like it’s a fucking nickname. And these are the people who are supposed to help you.
Now imagine what happens in an emergency situation. Imagine you’re me, six months before this, and you’re young and naïve and full of stupid, figuring that putting M will help them you treat you better (ha!), checking yourself in to see a doctor because you’re struggling to breathe. And the dude takes one look at your forms and your barely passing self, and refuses to enter the room. He just stands there at the edge, asking you to holler symptoms at him, and you sit there knowing that if you collapse, this man will pause and debate whether to save you or not. This is what happens when forms, bodies and cis prejudice collide.
Now imagine what you do in a Customs line when you enter a country. Imagine you’ve heard from acquaintances who’ve been turned away by the US, or that worst-case-scenario lurking at the back of your head about Homeland Security issuing a memo about “cross-dressed terrorists.” What do you put then? What do you wear then? How do you present?
Imagine how vulnerable you feel. Driving (what if a cop pulls me over). At the bank (what if they think I’m trying to scam my own money). At the doctors. At school. At work. At anywhere they want a piece of ID, anywhere they want you to tick a box that divides humanity into two. Anywhere they want you to fill out a form. Confess, little tranny girl, confess. Tell them what in their minds what you “really” are. Or else. And they’ll get you anyway.