Saturday, May 15, 2010

I've applied for full gender recognition.
It's a complicated business, this. A form to fill in, letters of support to be obtained - from your GP and from your Gender Specialist, who has to be recognised as such, and on an official list - a statutory declaration has to be signed in the presence of a solicitor, money has to be sent, and documents that prove you've been living in your new gender for at least two years.
So I did all that a while ago.
The committee only meets once a month, and there's a waitong list of applications, so it all takes its time.
I thought it was all a bit of a formality for me, a kind of administrative convenience so I could finally get all my official documents bearing the same name.
But the day before yesterday a letter came.
I found my heart beating wildly while I opened it: and understood it was not a formality for me at all.
But something deadly serious.
The committee were asking for further information.
They had changed the goalposts, and now in addition to what they already had required documentation from each of the two years up to the present.
I only understood this when talking to the charming, friendly and helpful person at the end of a telephone line who is my case worker.
(I have to give her my case number, and my pass word, i should add, before she becomes friendly and helpful at all)
It's a strange process, trying to find letters addressed to you that confirm your identity.
A bit randomly, I root through drawers and find:
the identity page of my passport (dated 2007)
a letter from my union representative (dated 2008)
a letter from Hull University (dated 2009)
a copy of my TV licence (dated 2010)
a copy of the Guardian review of Every One, which very publicly states I have "become a woman".
And all this has to be gathered together, and photocopied, and envelopes have to be found, and then a post office.
And I am complicating matters further by wanting to send the book of Every One, and reviews, and audience comments, and the Jesus postcard to Teatre Romea in Barcelona and Rough Magic in Dublin.
I find this all very traumatising. I understand later this is because I am taking on two huge difficulties and sources of distress at the same time:
my identity and my self esteem.
Which are, of course, utterly linked.
I forget to bring the books, I seal envelopes by mistake, I can't work out how to turn on the photocopier. Someone refers to me as "he" in a bookshop; I get called "sir" in the crowded post office...
and I don't have the strength to reply.
When I get home, a bit worn out by all this, I see a newspaper report about the gay couple who have got married in Malawi and consequently face savage jail sentences.
One of them may be transsexual: there's a photo of him wearing a woman's blouse, handcuffed to his lover, being jeered at in the open back of a pick up truck.
And I think: I have such an easy life.
Not that that really helps me feel better.


Oh, Jo. I feel for your befuddled day. I'm like that all the time but after reading this I won't complain about having to renew two passports before July now...!
People are so brave doing what they know is right and facing such horrendous consequences. Am going to see if there's a website in support of this gay couple...
love, Jenny xx
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