It’s official. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ no longer requires a letter stating a person has had gender-confirmation surgery, an amazing victory. Now people are able to correct their licenses gender marker enabling them safer, more accurate identification. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people.
This past week I was sent the unofficial, pre-press printout of the new BMV form. I was thrilled, like a kid on Christmas. My head was swimming with the possibilities, not just for myself, but for so many others. I opened the PDF and started to read.
“To be qualified, the medical professional must attest that the transition is being conducted in accordance with World Professional Association for Transgendered Health (WPATH) Standards of Care. This change is only to be made as part of a permanent, full time gender transition.”
My heart sank. I could see the image of that laminated M disappear. I can’t get my marker changed because I don’t follow the standards of care.
Every six months I drive five and a half hours to Chicago to get my trans-health care because I refuse to be diagnosed with gender identity disorder. My identity is not mentally disordered. I refuse to be labeled as such simply because queer gender does not conform to what is considered normal. If you had the right doctor, you could maybe swing something, but good luck finding a doctor who’s willing to break out of the box. Remember, this is Ohio. Could I get a letter? Maybe I could, but in order to do that I have to bow to a system of standards that oppress me, that oppress my people. I don’t look like a woman, I don’t sound like one, and I don’t belong to the F marked on my license but that isn’t enough to get it changed. I have to be legally diagnosed as mentally disordered- I have to be certifiably “transsexual” and apparently I’m trans enough to count. I understand that GID is on the books, and as long as it is I shouldn’t expect our community to get anything but the bare minimum, and as a genderqueer I shouldn’t expect to get anything.
Diligent, amazing activists worked hard to make this change as comprehensive and accessible as possible, but as long as we are inside a system that supports the pathologization of gender non-conformity our community is still controlled and oppressed. We are all trapped in this system, and if we ever want these first steps take us anywhere, the system itself must be changed. My dear friend wrote about change happening from the ‘bottom up.’ To me, it isn’t just about grassroots activism; it is a statement that this is the bare-minimum. We started with nothing, now we have a something, but we have a long way to go. Other movements have left us out but we cannot leave each other. Any gender transgressor is in our community and deserves to fight and to be fought for. No genderqueer left behind.