Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Your Papers Please

We dread hearing that, whether it is when we get stopped by police for a driving infractions or standing in line at a TSA checkpoint.
Why Transgender People Suffer from ‘ID Anxiety'
By Jacob Tobia
Jun 19, 2017

Think about the last time you went through TSA before getting on a flight.

No matter how well you packed or how often you’ve traveled, the experience probably managed to be a relatively unpleasant one. As you got in line, you might’ve been worried about how far away your gate was, about whether or not your flight would be delayed, or about if your feet were going to smell when you took off your shoes. If there was traffic on the way to the airport, you might’ve even been quietly (or not so quietly) panicking that you were going to miss your flight.

But odds are, no matter how stressed you were, you weren’t worried about missing your flight because the gender on your ID didn’t “match” how the TSA officer perceived you.

For trans people, “ID anxiety” can be an almost daily occurrence. As a gender nonconforming writer and producer, I travel at least once a month to make appearances at events or perform at colleges and universities. Each time I go through TSA, I take a deep breath and say a prayer that the officer at the podium won’t take one look at my dress, then the “M” on my driver’s license, and decide that I need to be held for more thorough questioning.

This anxiety isn’t just limited to TSA. When I see blue lights behind me on the highway and I worry that I’m being pulled over for a speeding ticket, ID Anxiety kicks in again. When a police car drives up behind me, my first thought isn’t “I wonder how much the fine is going to be?” My first thought is “Oh God, what am I wearing today? Am I wearing too much makeup? Will this dress be a problem? Is the officer going to have an issue with the M on my license?”
When I was in traffic accidents I worried about that. The first accident I was after I transitioned when a guy hit my car at a Maine tollbooth. Then in 2012 my new Prius got hit with only a 197 miles on the car and in both instances the police were very professional in the way they treated me.

But when you call 911 there is that little nagging worry… how will treat me?
Clearly we still have some fairly serious gender problems to solve. As a society, we have to begin redefining the role played by gender markers. That’s why, along with the rest of the transgender community, I am ecstatic about a recently-proposed bill in California that would create a gender-neutral designation on state ID documents and allow individuals to change their gender marker without undergoing clinical treatment or getting a court order.

If passed, the proposed law — Senate Bill 179 — would represent a historic leap forward for the transgender community in California and across the country. As a genderqueer person living in Los Angeles, I could then apply for a new driver’s license at the California DMV that simply listed “nonbinary” in the gender category.

The impact of having that on my driver’s license would be profound. I’d no longer have to worry about getting strange looks from TSA officers, and instead of assuming that I want a man to pat me down, they would simply ask me if I had a preference for a man or a woman. When being pulled over by a police officer, I wouldn’t have to worry anymore about my gender being treated as some sort of interrogation, or have to deal with the implications of simultaneously having makeup on my face and an “M” on my license.
Well I am not too sure about not being hassled by police anymore; it just might make it worst if you encountered a bigoted officer or a TSA agent.

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