Last year we saw Pakistan approve a new gender class on its ID's for hijras and India allow voters to declare themselves "O" for "Other." Now NSW, Australia, has changed its records on someone to identify hir as nongendered:
The 48-year-old, who was born a man and had a sex change operation 20 years ago, now lives in Australia and last week convinced authorities there to create a genderless option on all official documents.
Doctors recently declared that they were unable to determine whether Norrie's body was male or female because several years after the gender reassignment operation Norrie stopped taking female hormone pills.
This isn't the case of someone who identifies as tg/ts finding a creative way to work around paperwork and documentation; Norrie discusses in great detail hir androgyny and how ze's "psychologically hermaphrodite" (via Zoe):
When I joined the public service after uni, I faced serious discrimination for being androgynous, and had a nervous breakdown.
At this time, I was also doing drag shows in a gay hotel, receiving adulation for my femininity, rather than the disapprobation this received by those in the public service who sought to sack me for sissiness, and resolved to resolve my gender ambiguity by taking transsexual medicine and surgery.
Two years after swapping my penis for a vagina, I decided to go off hormones, so that I could experience my "natural" self, my body and mind without externally supplied hormones.
I also wanted to get in touch with those aspects of myself that had been labelled unladylike, such as the desire to climb trees. I devoured feminist therapeutic texts, liberated myself from sexist stereotypes, and discovered my uncensored unafraid self to be thoroughly androgynous.
I began writing and critiquing the sexist assumptions inherent in transsexual medicine, and identified as psychologically hermaphrodite.
That was nearly two decades ago, and I have become very comfortable being androgynous rather than female or male, and less tolerant of pretending to have a normative gender so as not to disturb others' preconceptions.
When I censor my being to please others, this causes violence to my soul. I have cut my penis and balls off; The cutting stops there; I don't want to cut another part of myself off to avoid conflict.
Allowing the cutting to continue, putting a normative gender on every form that only gives two options, is death by a thousand cuts to my soul.
Speaking out as an androgynous human, I have found much support, both from those who value diversity and humanity, and from those who also like to express themselves in androgynous or gender-bending ways.
Hir full narrative is worth reading in its entirety. There are parts that many of the trans people that I know would find problematic, including Norrie's statement that there are people who change gender identity based on the time of day, that "transsexual medicine" is inherently sexist, and that thinking that everyone identifies as either a man or a woman is "delusion."
Even if the vast majority of people are born with a gender identity that says that they are male or female, that doesn't mean that everyone's reality is quite that simple. And just because some people's reality is outside the binary doesn't destroy or render unimportant the categories within the binary, it just opens the system up.
But when it comes to public policy, it does make one wonder why we even have gender markers on ID. Is gender a piece of identifying information more important than a photo? Well, people can appear as they want to in their photo and in real life, with women with short hair and men with fine feature and full hair, it doesn't always work to help identify people more than a photo would. Especially considering that the gender marker on ID doesn't always match someone's lived gender identity or gender presentation....
The gender marker seems to function just as much as a social status, something that tells people where they fit in the grand scheme of things so that social order is simpler. I can't help but be reminded of this story from back when same-sex marriage was legal in California in 2008:
In May, after the California State Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal, the courts mandated state officials to provide gender-neutral licenses and other marriage forms. "Bride" and "groom" became "Party A" and "Party B."
Bird and Codding have refused to complete the new forms, a stand that has already cost them. Because their marriage is not registered with the state, Bird cannot sign up for Codding's medical benefits or legally take his name. They are now exploring their options, she said.
And Rachel Bird described her position as "personal - not religious."
"We just feel that our rights have been violated," she said.
To some, the couple's stand may seem frivolous. But others believe "bride" and "groom" are terms that are too important for the state to set aside.
"Those who support (same-sex marriage) say it has no impact on heterosexuals," said Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute. "This debunks that argument."
Some people really do like having their identity approved of by the government on a sheet of paper, even if it isn't all that useful. That someone can even say something as outrageous as "our rights have been violated" because the government didn't say who the bride was and who the groom was shows how deep this all runs.
More power to Norrie. This seems to be the government of her state allowing in this situation after she put forth a good deal of effort instead of a statewide policy to let people get that marker erased from their ID, which is different from Pakistan and India which I mentioned before the jump.