Obstacles to Legal Transition

The thirty odd years of my adult life have mostly been financially comfortable: when I didn’t have any money, I didn’t have much to lose. As time has gone on, there is more to lose: a dream house restored by our own hands, remarkable furniture scrounged from junk shops for the last twenty years, pets, good credit, a financially secure future. The last year of my life brought threats to all of this. My spouse of twenty-two years has been sick and out of work for a year. The dog just dislocated his hip. We have many thousands of dollars of medical, dental, and veterinary bills.

This change in position in life has made me re-consider the way that I have viewed the obstacles to medical, social, and legal transition which have been put in place by governmental agencies. I mean requisites such as counseling requirements for hormone therapy, therapy requirements for surgery, surgery requirements for legal changes.

My former point of view was that there is nothing wrong with these requirements. It takes effort to overcome the roadblocks. That effort prevents those who are not truly committed from just doing this on a whim. For me, having jumped through all the hoops validates my identity. Look, I really am who I am, because I have done all of these difficult things to prove it.

Now my view has changed. When I began my medical transition, the money I spent on counseling was dear to our budget, yet it did not put us in any actual financial risk. Later, it was the same for electrolysis, and for surgery. As it is, I have been lax for the last few years. I have the paperwork for changing my name, and my birth certificate marker, but haven’t gotten around to doing it. It would be highly irresponsible of me to spend even a few hundred dollars on this right now. If I were to be beginning transition now, all of those things would be out of reach. More to the point, with requirements for legal changes in place, it would be absolutely impossible for me to get official identification which reflects my gender identity.

So, what major goal do these requirements achieve? They keep poor people from acquiring the paperwork that they need so that they don’t get harassed or denied when they interact with government officials, seek governmental aid, apply for school, apply for jobs, visit the hospital, get pulled over in a roadblock, or a million other transactions.

For myself, push come to shove, I can fix my paperwork when I need to. I know how to stand up for myself. My spouse stands up for me too. I know my rights, and I have access to people who will help me. But lots of other people don’t have those luxuries. So long as such steep obstacles to legal transition remain in place, those people are easy targets for being victimized because of their gender identity.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dace
    Sep 16, 2014 @ 13:45:33

    I can only imagine how that is to be mistreated by medical staff when they have sworn to treat you and to care for you no matter who you are. Of all the people and all the institutions, hospital and their staff should be trained, educated, trained again and constantly reminded of that they are there to do.

    However, what really surprises me is that there are all kinds of people from all walks of life who end up in hospitals and that alone should have been enough to create tolerance.

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    • The Final Rinse
      Sep 16, 2014 @ 21:23:28

      Thanks for replying. You always have something positive to say on your blog.
      My current doctor gets really really mad when she hears how her fellow physicians behave. She had never even given a thought to providing care to transgender persons. Yet, when she heard that my doctor had left the area a few years ago, she had not a moment of hesitation that she would take me, as well as a few other “orphaned” patients, into her practice. Compare this to several dozen other family practitioners associated with the hospital which I have referred to, all of whom were unwilling to take us.
      But, I feel very fortunate that my spouse and I have each managed to find excellent medical care for several years now.

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