There are several types of legal issues when it comes to transsexuals and our lives. Many of these are simply practical, such as being issued personal identification that is actually useable. However others are a little trickier, like how to obtain a meaningful birth-certificate for a child. But however different these issues may appear, many have common roots:
First: The legal system in no way anticipates our existence, therefore
some areas of our lives take place outside the legal framework of society.
This isn't illegal, the problem is rather that there is no meaningful
legal way to deal with issues there. Such problems range from the fact
that I can no longer provide proof that I have ever been the person I was
for a good many years because the government does not issue any statement
that I am the same person I used to be. Because I have lived for a while
there are things like marriage or birth-certificates of children,
land-titles, academic records and so on which cannot be corrected in a
meaningful way because the government simply states that such
corrections do not exist.
Second: The mental-health community specifically
insists in us committing certain crimes in order to obtain medical
treatment. The first part mostly extends to issues like using
"gender (in-)appropriate facilities", such as washrooms. While
it is technically illegal for us to comply to this because our legal
gender does not match the expectations for using such facilities,
practically punishments for this, if reported, are up to the beholder
and could range anywhere from nothing at all to incarceration if our
using the wrong facilities is interpreted as "sexually
motivated". Depending on the social setting the use of "gender
inappropriate facilities" or even our mandated "living the
other gender-role" alone could be of immediate danger - and cause
emotional, physical and legal harm all in it's own. How such incidents
are dealt with obviously varies widely by jurisdiction and gender, for
example it is reasonable to assume that a legal male who is found in a
female change-room would have to expect different treatment from a legal
female who is found in a male change-room.
Again, I would like to use a quote from my book to illustrate the problem:
As a result [of these mandated
expectations as well as the unavailability of reasonable legal solutions]
it is today a lot easier for everybody else to find government certified
proof that I had genital surgery than it is for me to provide proof that I
was the person I used to be or to provide proof that the history of my
life is in fact real and not fabricated. Itís completely absurd, but it
is a fact!
Third: But there is yet one more area of concern for which society does not offer a solution:
I have been forced into obtaining mental treatment because being sent
there is "the commonly agreed upon way of doing things" for
medical practitioners when it comes to gender-treatment. Not going there
would have resulted in treatment-refusal (i.e. prescriptions for
hormonal treatment and referrals for surgery) - which in turn would have
meant suffering and possibly death, most likely by suicide. Right from
the start I clearly stated that I would not be willing to see a
psychiatrist because I did not think that I would benefit in any way
from his services, so I was sent - as a "maximum compromise" -
to social services instead.
Everybody, including the counsellors there as well as the GP who sent me there agreed that this was done solely to comply to an illegal medical protocol and that no medical, behavioural, emotional or psychological reason existed which would have indicated such treatment. Still, I am not allowed to have my mental-health history expunged and to get unequivocal parental rights to my children back. So apparently criminals can get pardons for legal convictions of their actual, proven crimes for which they have been found guilty by a court of law but I cannot get my medical conviction expunged even though this has been obtained illegally, by application of unethical means (i.e. an implied death-threat if I would not comply) and in sharp contradiction to the medical oath?
In our social system there are two avenues to remedy similar issues. On a remedial level for individuals there is the legal system, on a preventative, social level there is the political system. Both avenues are closed to most transsexuals, because both avenues are public (either through public debate in the political system or through the judicial system which works by public trial). Therefore, unless a transsexual person is willing to publicly declare that he/she has been mistreated by the medical, mental-health and legal system - in which case she will also have to publicly present her disability, her having been sent to mental-health, her medical record (or at least parts thereof) and most likely information about his/her most intimate self such as sexual behaviour or sexual function - there is no way left to remedy such a situation.
I therefore submit that two changes are necessary in our society:
(1) There needs to be a government office that has the power to have any and all public records changed in a way as to reflect currently lived reality by request of an individual if there is no other meaningful way to have government records reflect such reality. If the need for such change arises due to previous bureaucratic mistakes, a medical condition such as transsexuality, or is clearly of a life-saving nature (as for example in the case of a politically persecuted refugees who would like to alter his/her identity) such services, including any new documents, ought to be free of charge. This would be akin to what certain countries do in the witness protection program. If this is possible for the benefit of the state, to convict a criminal, then it ought to be possible for the benefit of an individual who has gotten into this situation for no wrong of his/her own!
(2) Today medicine is the only body within society that operates
fully and exclusively self-controlled with no external oversight while
at the same time maintaining a monopoly on providing services people
depend on for life. In my opinion how they treat transsexuals is proof
that they are incapable and incompetent to control themselves in a
meaningful, responsible and socially acceptable way. I therefore
submit that there needs to be a CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT OVER MEDICINE, a
panel of people who are not related to the medical system who decide
what medicine can or can't do to individuals if ever such conflicts
arise, a body with the power to remedy such situations if these are
brought to their attention. This would be similar to public police
oversight committees, to the public oversight over the military through
politically appointed civilians, to school-trustees, even the media's
oversight in court proceedings.