Monday, 10 December 2007

Passports - The Last Battle

I've just received a phonecall from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Today, they are issuing me with a passport. At no charge. And, just as importantly, an apology for the inconvenience.

It's cost me about $500 in application fees (rather than less than $200 of the original application), hundreds of hours of writing letters, going to interviews, communications with Ministers and Department Heads, being ordered to divorce, innumerable blog entries recording it all...

But I've won. Some 20 months after I first walked into a post office and put in my application, as is the right of every Australian citizen.

This should never have happened. Yes, unusual circumstances, well outside the norm, but had there been a modicum of rationality, goodwill, or simple decency at the highest levels, this would have been resolved long ago.

I dared to hope even before the election. You see, I'm not the only one in an equally unusual situation, involving foreign birth, marriage, change of legal sex, children... and DFAT had started helping, serving the Public, in some other cases, rather than being bloody-minded. There were signs and portents of a change of culture.

Now I have a lot to do: informing the various mailing lists and support sites, and individuals too, of the new precedent that's been set. Helping others, as I have been helped. The greatest gift I've received is the network of support from others who, like me, can only rely on each other, as we certainly can't rely on others. Well, that's not quite true, not for me. Unlike so many, the readers of my blog have been a pillar of strength for me. Any victory is really theirs, more than anyone else's. They had no dog in this fight, no self-interest as I did, they just helped out of a sense of justice, of doing the right thing no matter what.

Had this schlemazzle not happened, I never would have known the friends I had. Thank you all.

Now to do some e-mailing. But first, a cup of tea, and a good, long cry. I'm not superhuman, after all.

14 comments:

Lloyd Flack said...

At last! Rationality and decency prevails with the help of the theatened use a few legal two-by fours.

We dance the happy dance, the gloating dance. (I speak on behalf of the rest of your readers.)

I'm so glad for you.

toa said...

I'm gonna be cynical; after the big long struggle, is it really that simple? I'll believe the passport when your finally holding it.

Laserlight said...

You're not superhuman? Certainly you've gone above and beyond what the normal person does.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to standing up to the man and overcoming all the slings of misfortune they've thrown your way.

Anonymous said...

Good on you Zoe, and congratulations. You have been going through this for much longer than I have. After yesterday's insult - unintended perhaps but deep and cutting nonetheless, at the local post office - I am so hoping for civilized treatment at the hands of the staff of the Sydney Passports Office today. I now know that you are at least the fourth of us who has received her passport. Will I be the fifth?

mythusmage said...

Good on ya, girl! Congratulatory hug and snuggle await you in San Diego. :)

dhconcerts said...

Congratulations! deb

Elizabeth Fong said...

Congratulations! *hug*

Anonymous said...

Zoe, I am now back from the Sydney Passports Office. A number of things happened, with the first being that they questioned the validity of a name change document that had been issued under the then-extent laws of Western Australia and was perfectly legally valid. Then they kept insisting that I need to obtain a corrected birth certificate before I am permitted to have a passport recording my actual physical sex. I kept citing the Grace Abrams versus DFAT AAT decision, and kept quoting the AAT finding that DFAT must issue Ms Abrams with a passport in her actual physical sex without a corrected birth certificate, and kept telling the officers why I cannot obtain a corrected birth certificate. I had already given them copies of my marriage record from the UK and all other required documents and many more besides, such as the numerous forms of letters from various doctors testifying that they have examined my genitals and found them to be female. There is no end to the many and various versions of such letters that different authorities want. The NSW RTA is the latest. It seems that Dr Suporn's letter simply is no longer good enough. I left the Passport office having paid my $200 fee, having signed a declaration that my marriage is still valid, with the application in suspension until I can produce yet another letter, this time from the Births, Deaths and Marriages Regsitrar of the state I was born in attesting to the fact that as I am not "unmarried" then they will not issue me with a corrected birth certificate. It is already well-known and well-documented that all state and territory BDMs will not issue corrections without applicants being unmarried, so why does DFAT think they need a letter from one such BDM stating what they already know? It seems that the BDM of my birth state is having a hard time understanding why they are obliged to issue such a letter, so now I must write them a long email explaining why it is required of them by DFAT. A phone call is not enough to get this absurd request across, it seems.

And so this thing just goes on and on and on....

Zoe Brain said...

Karen, I'll do what I can. Have a word in the shell-like ear of someone at the head office.
In the meantime... write the e-mail. Phone. Nag. Pester. Call the passport hotline regarding progress of your application. Make them heartily sick of it, so they just want you to GO AWAY. Mention the AAT - not just the case, but the likelihood that you'll take them to court.
But first... take a deep breath. Write the letter. Give them time to reply. Be the essence of sweet reason.
If you still don't have your passport within 3 months, then I'll help you with letters to the minister.
You'll get one, that's 100% certain. What is not certain is how much pain and nausea you'll have to go though first. My feeling is that the Good Word has not filtered down yet. This is not deliberate obstructionism, but cluelessness and CYA. I may be able to help there, possibly get head office to issue Sydney with a clue-by-4.

Asher Abrams said...

Zoe, congratulations.

Daniel said...

Long time lurker from the UK, de-lurking to say...what fantastic news. Congratulations and well done in being so persistent, I send metaphorical tissues and a hug.

Cheers, Daniel xx

Zoe Brain said...

Thanks everyone.

I received my passport by registered mail on the 12th, all in order.

If it hadn't have been, it would just have been a delay, and I would have dealt with that if I had to.

Thanks once more for all the support.

Zoe

Christopher Weuve said...

Congrats!! 'Bout time.