I've taken three more steps forward in the last week. Toward what I'm not sure, but it turns out that it doesn't really matter...
I turned 47. It occurred to me a while back that I might well be over half way through my life. I've got lots to show for it, including two beautiful human beings whom I'm proud to call my kids.
But I'm not dead yet. I want the next half to be a full and challenging existence. Through combatting fear and desolation I've developed a bunch of survival strategies and I want to use them all ! I don't want to stand still, rather keep growing, Hence I feel the need to push a little harder at some of my boundaries. There are risks of course, but when I ask myself 'why do it?' my monkey mind gleefully responds... 'why not?'
I visited my Doctor. I hadn't seen him for ages, and only a few times since starting on a low dose of testosterone over 6 months ago. I've just been bumbling along, dosing myself with daily gel according to what feels right. Scandalous, right? Should'nt I be monitoring hormone levels with regular blood tests? Or seeing a psych to work through my 'emergent masculinity'? But tbh there've been few times in my life when I've felt so little need for therapy or medical intervention. (Don't worry I made myself attend an overdue check in with the Dentist).
I asked my Doctor to sign a statement to confirm the following:
This is part of an application to change sex or gender identity form available here. When I first stumbled upon this document a few days ago, my heart sang!
Then, instantly, I worried about their definition of 'clinical treatment'. At this stage I don't want or need surgery... Later, in the Doctor's section of the (lengthy) document there is this:
I understand clinical treatment need not involve invasive medical treatment and may include or be constituted by counselling.
I'm getting an 'X' on my passport! When I started the process of updating my passport (with a better name) a couple of weeks ago, I didn't presume to tick the non-binary box. I guess I just assumed it would be too hard?
Then my photo was returned because (and I really quote) 'you are smiling'. It allowed me a bit more time to think it over and that's when I stumbled on the form above.
Here is the photo in question (left) and the one I've since had taken, hopefully without too much 'smiley-ness' (right).
In the post office, three people clucked around the computer monitor that applied an algorithm to my facial expressions. They advised me to try pouting. They took 3 sets of photos then gave up.
'Your mouth just goes up at the corners! You can't help that!'
It occurred to me that maybe the smile was showing in my eyes? With no make up, what else have I got to enlighten my visage, but humour?
I started thinking about all the ways I could have disguised myself with make up (presumably without triggering the algorithm) and sadly, the irony made me smile even more.
So these are my three baby steps forward. Not towards a new me, because all my old selves remain with me. But into the second half of my life - not male, not female, nor indeterminate/intersex/unspecified.
I'll be non-binary, with an 'X' in my passport thanks!
Qualifiers: Before I launch this update into my web, I consider my digital trace. Is this ok for anyone to read? I wish to make the following qualifiers:
I recognise my experience is
What risks? Just residual fears about harassment, disapproval... particularly travelling overseas, particularly across American borders.
This article is old... but I wonder, in an era of heightened alarm, whether surveillance policy has changed?
The TSA body scan is triggered when one's anatomy appears as 'anomaly' to one's appearance. Effectively the 'transportation security officer' reads gender based on external normative presentation, in combination with a binary gender category checked in one's passport. So female-identifying people who happen to be accompanied by a penis are unfairly targeted. It is worth noting that a trans woman with or without female certification is possibly more likely to be targeted than a straight white man just about anywhere, with or without aid of technology. They'll be alongside a long queue of overly monitored people of colour, visible ethnicity, nervous demeanour, sweaty or overweight people etc.
Previously, as a person with an 'F' in my passport, the fact that my body scans female, with notably absent penis, rolled in my favour. I wonder if my new 'X' will be cause for 'alarm' or just confusion? It can be a fine line...
I've booked flights that allow some extra time for transit between journey legs, just in case anything proves tricky.
I am a teacher and a learner and an activist and an artist and a parent.