One of the things you are told that you should do when you transition, is to update your passport. I haven’t as yet as my driver’s license and birth certificate are in order and no immediate plans to go out of country. I do need to do that though. Traveling, though, does raise other issues and concerns. Sometimes, you don’t think about it, especially when you live in a Progressive State such as Massachusetts.
Here in Massachusetts, it was fairly easy to transition. Oh, there are all the numerous forms that have to be filed and new documents issued and updated. There are sites like the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition that have guides to help you maneuver the many agencies you have to deal with. https://www.masstpc.org/ They also give the recommended order to make the changes. In our State, you need to get your Social Security changed first as the RMV goes by that information. Of course, you will have to return to the Social Security office at a later date to get the gender marker changed. A nuisance, but they wouldn’t change the marker unless I had some sort of medical intervention. Given that I now have my birth certificate stating I was born Emma and female, I just have to have time to go back. I ended up having to go back to have the gender marker changed on my license also but that was more because I didn’t realize I needed that additional form to fill out. So two trips to the RMV just to get my new license. I still need to get my military records amended, but since I am not eligible for benefits anymore, not a real rush. So, my next concentration is to get that passport.
Of course, getting that passport will be a big step, but something else was brought to my attention when my wife went to a significant other support group meeting. It was brought up about international travel. Someone stated that we could never travel to Mexico. Huh, what, why? Yeah, it turns out that to them we would be considered lesbians and that is illegal. So that opened up a whole new awareness of potential destinations. If we are to travel, we have to be aware of the local customs and restrictions. Simply being transgender could get me imprisoned or even killed in some countries. Hadn’t given much thought to the idea that some places might see us as lesbians which brings a whole new kettle of fish to the table.
While international travel is fraught with issues, even simply traveling in the States can be perilous. There are areas that are hostile to transgender, not sure about lesbians. I don’t think they can jail you in the states, but they could refuse service even in a hospital. So planning a trip means taking extra time to research the local acceptance. It is amazing with all the research that has been done and the information available, that this is still an issue. I used to have to travel to Texas for work. The last time was the time I decided to tell my boss and come out at work. I don’t have to travel anymore, but I have to say that going through scanners concerned me. I heard many horror stories of people being humiliated and pulled out of line because their body gave them away in a full scanner. Of course, after I have GRS, that won’t be an issue anymore, but it is just one more thing that we have to think and be concerned about. I have heard that it is getting better and TSA is starting to get the picture but those brave people who subjected themselves to the searches, that came before helped to educate. This was especially so after lawsuits were filed against the TSA. This was under Obama so there was a positive change, but those protections have been removed by Trump, so who knows.
Given that Massachusetts is one of those States that affords protections to transgender people, maybe it is better that I just stay here and visit all the places I haven’t visited yet in Massachusetts. Hopefully, we can overcome the legions of hate and ignorance that are pushing for a repeal of those protections. That is another story though.
So, for a transgender person, we can’t just take for granted that we will be accepted wherever we go. We have to go that further step beyond getting a flight, car, hotel room, to ensuring that wherever we go around the world, we will not find ourselves thrown in jail or murdered for just being. So remind me again, why this is a life choice?
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.
Emma Morgaine Croft