I haven’t posted here in a while since most of what I’ve been working on must stay secret for the moment, however I tweeted a couple of things today that I think really deserve a fuller explanation. This post is deeply personal and not at all security-related so if you’re only here for the infosec stop reading now; if you’re still here let’s start with what I tweeted and go from there.
1/2 I now meet all requirements to change my legal gender in the state/country where I live (California, USA) and the country I’m from (UK).
2/2 If I did so, none of the three would allow my happy seven-year-old marriage to continue. I am required to divorce my wife first #crying
Where to start?
I started getting curious about the first point coming back from a doctors visit today. I had just ticked “F” on a form for the first time and was idly wondering when I could change my drivers license. As it turns out it takes a doctor to attest that both my “gender identification” and my “demeanour” are female; that gets me a court order (the same court order as my name change if desired) and everything goes from there. My green card is slightly different, in this case I must get my doctor to attest that I have “undergone clinical treatment” to become female; I actually now have several doctors who could complete this for me despite the short list of accepted specialties. The UK requires me to live as female for 2 years before I “qualify”, however they would likely defer to my US transition and grant it based on that alone.
This came as a real surprise to me. The idea of changing all my legal documents really snuck up on me – I remember reading about it all a while ago and thinking that it was a while before I’d have to worry about it; as it turns out “a while” has passed. This would have made me ecstatically happy if it weren’t for the second part of this.
In the UK there is one additional requirement before they will recognise my gender transition: I must provide the “gender recognition panel” with a copy of my divorce decree. You read that right, I am compelled to divorce my wife of almost 7 years before I can change the “M” to an “F” on my passport. California isn’t even that explicit – proposition 8 simply says “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”. If I change my drivers license then it’s simply *poof*, my marriage isn’t valid any more. Federally I’m no better off; if I chose to drive across the country my marriage would go from valid to invalid several times along the journey – I guess the same thing happens at high speed when I get on a plane, and I don’t even want to know what the consequences are to any contracts that my wife and I sign given the complexities of where companies are “based” nowadays.
Nobody should ever have to feel like this. I’m upset that the government is forcing me to choose between my gender identity and my marriage; the “Defense Of Marriage Act” is a joke. I’m ashamed of my country, both the one I’m originally from and the one where I currently live – and I’m especially ashamed of California for passing Proposition 8. I’m angry that this is all driven by people’s hatred of each other; some crazy religious folks decided that the brightly-dressed people at Pride shouldn’t be treated the same as everyone else and suddenly my marriage is invalidated against my (and my wife’s) wishes. I’m confused as to how the world could have gotten so broken without anyone noticing, and I’m so very, very sad for everyone else who’s caught up in this ridiculousness.
Somewhere, deep underneath it all, I’m still ecstatically happy that I’ve reached this milestone. It’s been a long time coming and I’m *really* looking forward to being my sparkly-pretty shiny new self for Blackhat and Defcon this year; on a wider perspective I see gay marriage legalising in New York and it gives me hope for humanity after all.
Isn’t it time we fixed this?