Monday, 21 April 2008

In Good Company

From GayUnganda:
Ugandans know a guy called Brenda. A gal, because Brenda is a trans person. Meaning that biologically the birth was to a male baby, but growing up Brenda was more confortable in the female role, and ultimately embraced the female gender.

Far as I know, she has not got surgery.
I can, and do hide the fact that I am gay. Brenda does not. She does not hide the fact that she is transgender.

Recently, Brenda needed travel documents. They were denied. Reason, they don’t give them to ‘people who have changed themselves’. Julie Victor Mukasa tells of the time that she had to prove that she was biologically female at the RDC’s office in Kampala, when she went to get passport forms filled. Use your imagination how she proved that.

Our constitution states that it is a citizens right to get a passport. Brenda is apparently not included in that definition of a citizen.

From the Australian Passports Determination 2005 Explanatory Statement Section 6.3 Para 89:

Persons who are to be denied passports because it is undesirable that they be allowed to have one include:
Australian citizens who are transgender, that is are living in the identity of a member of the opposite sex; and
Australian citizens being repatriated or deported to Australia or extradited

Readers of this blog will know that it took a 20 month fight, with legal letters, letters to Ministers, the Prime Minister, members of the (then) Opposition (who gave no help at all), to get my passport - and an apology over the phone, not in writing. Had I been a pre-op transsexual like Brenda, I'd still be waiting.

I didn't have to go to the lengths of Julie Mukasa, though the thought had occurred more than once. It came close to that. They did require me to give a detailed verbal description of my genitalia, yet another humiliation (and not the worst I've had to endure from the Government). The written medical evidence that I was intersexed and in transition was insufficient for them. I was neither asked to provide, nor did I give them, any surgeon's letter showing what procedures had been performed. They required Sex Reassignment Surgery, and as the mountain of evidence I'd already provided showed that I was medically female before surgery, that would have meant FtoM. They dared not ask for that.

Looking back on it, I think that when they realised the consequences of what they were doing, and that I was not ashamed of my condition, but eager to blow the whole filthy business wide open in a courtroom, that they caved. That, and the legal drubbing they'd recently received from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal on a related issue. They'd relied on me being too embarrassed to proceed.

Anyway, in this one area, the generally trans-friendly Australia can claim to have exactly the same stellar human rights record as Uganda. <sarcasm> Makes you proud to be Australian, doesn't it? </sarcasm>


Nat said...

Jeez! I had no idea the laws were so retrogressive. Is there anything we can do??

Anonymous said...

thats one thing I noticed was missing from the 2020 talk. nothing on human rights.

The closest was NSW declining to replace mother and father with partner.

RadarGrrl said...

I would have been quite willing myself to go public with my transition had my peers and superiors succeeded in giving me the boot. I'd do it in a heartbeat. The things you can't do when you're stealth.

Zoe Brain said...

Hi Nat! Good to have you here.

There are things we can do, and are doing. Generally, people who are IS have not been treated quite so badly as those who are TS, and that's because of the Alex MacFarlane mess.

Basically, anyone who is indisputably IS and identifies as Neutrious can have a passport with X as the sex, rather than M or F. They may have to fight for that, but help is available, and it will cost time, not money.

IS people are given passports with the sex as marked on their BC, and getting that changed to match gender identity is the first step. IS people are not, or rather, should not, be classified as "transgendered" within the meaning of the explanatory statement. My own situation acts as precedent there.

I straddle the borderline between "indisputably TS with some IS complications" and "indisputably IS with a TS life history". But we of all people should know about fuzzy boundaries, and bigendered models as being really good approximations rather than sharp divides.