17 April 2013

No Irish Transgenders Need Apply--In Ireland

I'm going to tell you one of my dim, dark secrets, in case I haven't revealed it elsewhere on this blog:  I was born in Georgia. 

How that happened is a long story.  I lived in Georgia only for the first few months of my life.  I have no dislike of the state and have met some perfectly lovely people who hail from there.  However, I've spent so little time there since those early days of my life that I really can't have a positive, negative or even neutral feeling about it.  I simply can't think of myself as a Georgian, and probably have no right to do so.

Actually, I can't speak too badly of the Peachtree State.  (I mean, how can you hate a place with a name like that?)  After all, they did something a few other states still don't do.  After I had my surgery, they issued me a brand-new birth certificate with my new name and my female gender.  As I understand, some states issue amended birth certificates in which the original name and gender are crossed out.  

Some would argue that post-operative trans people should get amended birth certificates, or shouldn't be able to change it at all.  After all, they say, it's a historical document that records a fact.  

That is true, up to a point.  A person's gender is recorded according to the best judgment of the doctor who delivered him or her.  A few babies' sexes are difficult to determine even for the most experienced obstetricians; however, there are more--including yours truly--whose brains weren't constructed in accordance with their sexual organs.  Of course, the doctor--and, for that matter, just about anybody else--has no way of knowing that.  So, it could be said that the doctor, however unintentionally, made a mistake in determining the baby's gender.  

Perhaps not all mistakes are worth correcting.  However, the gender recorded on your birth certificate determines all kinds of things, from what you're named to (in most places) whom you're allowed to marry. 

So this business of birth certificates is very important.  The State of Georgia, not known for its progressiveness (Is that a word?) is still miles ahead of other places in that regard.  One of those places is Ireland.

Now, you might think that's not so unusual, given Ireland's longstanding reputation as a conservative Catholic country.  But the Emerald Isle's refusal to recognize a gender "change" means that, in essence, it's all but impossible for an Irish trangender person to get married.  A male-to-female is still seen as male; therefore, she cannot marry a man.  And it would probably be all but impossible for her to marry a woman, as nearly all Irish marriages are performed by Catholic priests, most of whom won't marry a transgender person who lives in his or her true gender.

What's really strange about all of this, though, is that Ireland is willing to recognize the status of transgender people born outside of Ireland.  An amended birth certificate from a state that recognizes sex "changes" will allow a person to enter into a marriage or civil union in Ireland, but those born in Ireland can't obtain such a documents.

So, let's see...In Ireland, I have more rights than an Irish transgender person--even one, like Lydia Foy, who had gender-reassignment surgery in England. You can drink a lot of Irish whiskey and not see anything stranger than that!

I mean, it's as if the Irish government were saying "No Irish Need Apply."  Or did Mahmoud "There Are No Homosexuals In Iran" Ahmadinejad move to Ireland and make transgenders the new target of his bigotry?