22 April 2015

An ID For Her True Self

Every trans person I've known who began living in her or his true gender as an adult wished that she or he could have so lived as a child and as a teenager.  And each one of us has some thing or another we wish we could have done, or had, during those years.

Some of them are major, such as, well, getting to live in our true genders--or, more specifically, having relationships with family members and friends as the people we truly are.  Then there are those seemingly-trivial things that could have added to the quality of our lives.

Throughout my childhood and teen years--in fact, through most of my life--I hated to be photographed. I'm still not crazy about having my picture taken now because, well, I'm not terribly photogenic, to put it mildly. But in my earlier years, I felt that every photo of me was a lie, a deception, because it was an image of what I was supposed to be rather than of who I was.

Of course, everyone jokes about how terrible their ID photos are.  Some actually believe that the Department of Motor Vehicles requires their employees to be on psychosis-inducing medication before taking photos for drivers' licenses.  But those of us who wanted to live as the people we were--and tried to seize moments of doing so by "cross dressing"--knew that having the kinds of IDs we had, in essence, forced us to be the people depicted in them.

Chase Culpepper understands what I've just described.  The 17-year-old South Carolinan was forced to dress male for the drivers' license photo, even though she identifies as female.  The Transgender Legal Defense and Education fund filed a suit on her behalf.  As a result, a settlement--announced this morning--will allow her to wear female clothes and makeup for the first major piece of identification many young people receive--and the one some regard as a passport to adulthood. And now she gets to be a Southern Belle!