Nice To Get Helped For A Change

| Working | August 21, 2012

(A friend of mine is transgendered and going through the process of her transition. Recently, her doctor has gotten her the documents necessary for changing her gender marker on her ID. She’s still nervous in public and has asked me to come with her for support. This occurs when we go to change her driver’s licence.)

My Friend: “Hi, I was hoping to…”

(The employee at the counter appears to be glaring at her, so my friend nervously trails off and ends up staring at her feet. I jump in.)

Me: “Hi there, we just came in to get some info changed on her licence.”

Employee: “What needs changing?”

Me: “Just the gender marker for today.”

Employee: “Can’t change that.”

Me: “Oh, I know not normally, but we have all the paperwork from her doctor that should be necessary for changing it.”

(I hand the employee my friend’s papers. The employee barely glances at them.)

Employee: “Can’t change it.”

Me: “Could I ask what’s wrong?”

Employee: “This doesn’t look official enough.”

Me: “I’m sorry, could you please explain?”

Employee: “Anyone could make papers like this. I can’t change HIS gender marker with them.”

(At her clearly deliberate use of the wrong pronoun, I get mad. I make up my mind to not leave that building until I get what I need done)

Me: “It’s her, not his, and you barely looked at those papers. Now, I don’t think a quick glance at the papers and the fact that they don’t look ‘official enough’ is enough for you to turn her down here. Or, do you really have no way of identifying forms directed to you aside from how official you think they look?”

Employee: “Can’t change anything on his licence.”

Me: “I think you can, and you’re being difficult.”

Employee: “Can’t change anything on his licence.”

Me: “You’re also still using the wrong pronoun, which is discrimination. She’s a woman, the pronoun is ‘her.'”

Employee: “His licence says male. He’s a man.”

Me: “She isn’t, actually, and the fact that the licence says male is the whole reason we’re here. Because that’s not correct, and needs to be changed.”

Employee: “Can’t change anything on his licence.”

Me: “Can we speak to a manager?”

Employee: “Can’t change anything on his licence.”

Me: “I don’t think you heard me. Bring a manager out here please.”

Employee: “Can’t change anything on his licence.”

(At this point we’re the last customers in the building. Half of the other employees are silently watching this conversation play out. Most look horrified at how their coworker is acting, but none are doing anything about it.)

Me: *to another employee* “Excuse me, could you please get a manager out here for us to talk to?”

Other Employee: “The manager has already gone home for today.”

Me: “Do you have a phone number to contact them, or someone else in charge? I’d like to speak to them personally right away.”

Other Employee: “I’ll check.”

(We wait a few minutes, and a man enters through the front door of the building. He comes right over to us and introduces himself as a manager.)

Manager: “So, what seems to be the problem?”

Me: “We’re trying to get my friend’s gender marker changed on her licence.”

Employee: *to the manager* “I can’t change anything on the licence. The forms look fake.”

(The manager takes the forms from her and looks through them slowly.)

Manager: “Why do you think these are fake?”

Employee: “They look like someone could have just made them on a computer.”

Manager: “Well, yes, they’re typed out, so obviously they were made on a computer, but that’s not a reason to deny this young lady. I can’t understand why you wouldn’t just change it.”

Me: “Excuse me, sir, but I believe her reason was a bias against my friend’s gender. Throughout our conversation she kept referring to her with male pronouns, and insisted she was a man.”

Manager: *to the employee* “Is that true?”

Employee: *stays silent*

Manager: *to the other employee* “Is that true?”

Other Employee: “Well… yes.”

Employee: “His licence says male. He’s a man.”

Manager: “Oh for the love of… go start closing up for the day. I’ll finish helping these two ladies.”

(The manager quickly types some things on the computer and we get a new licence for my friend. Along with a licence is a handwritten note.)

Manager’s Note: “She’s going to be getting a detailed lesson about gender issues, and at the end of that lesson I’m firing her for her behavior. I’m deeply sorry for the trouble, and I hope you can both still manage to have a wonderful day after all that.”

(I got so many hugs from my friend, who was grinning for the next week at the new “F” on her licence!)

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