Paws off!

The time arrives, I guess, for a shift of emphasis. I hinted at it before, but I am sure I am running out of trans stories with which to regale you.

It sort of stands to reason. Like every other story, there must be a timing and a pace to the transgender experience. First the excitement of discovery. Then the drama of coming out. Incident. Yet more excitement. Then finally, the gradual sinking back to a more mundane pace.

Which I quite like. Its been quite fun talking about the decision: the feelings. But it also, eventually, gets stale. Never say never: but if I never do another interview around the topic of why and when and how did it feel…I doubt I’d mind. Not that there’s nothing more to say, but…the intersting stuff gets more subtle.

So when I’m not being a “bolshie tranny”, trans woman or just plain middle-aged girl, who am I?

One incident from the last week might tell you a bit more: and you’ll either hate the interfering busy-bodiness of it, or like it.

I’ve always been political in one sense or another. Well, not always…but my earliest political actions were joined at age 12-13…and carried on ever since. One impulse is a hatred of injustice. Another a much more house-ma’amish dislike of procedural stupidity.

And inconsistency.

I am an occasional (I stress occasional) admirer of Peter Hitchens, in his more Libertarian moods, and was struck recently by his outrage at being told by a hotel he needed to provide proof of identity “because it was the law”. Except it wasn’t. So he kicked up a fuss…but later moaned in his column how the failure of most people to do the same meant a gradual encroachment of liberty.

I had a similar Hitchens moment last week with the Department of Education. I needed to fill in one of their online forms. It was a simple query…but before the form would allow itself to be submitted, it required me to explain my “role”: whether I was parent, teacher, press, or whatever.

It was one of those darn mandatory fields. I balked. In the end, I hit “other”, then stuck something irrelevant in there.

Then I phoned their service line. I asked why the field was mandatory. The helpful person at the end of the line gave me all sorts of service-speak about it helping them to serve customers better. I demurred. It was, I explained, the mandatory nature of the field that was an issue. I had no doubt the info might be helpful: it didn’t overturn the fact that in order to submit an ordinary query to the DoE I HAD TO provide information not actually required by law.

Eventually, they got it. I had two further phone friendly calls back. One staff member suggested the simple solution was for me to tick other and then lie in the free text box.

They missed the point – which is this creeping obsession on the part of government around making access to OUR services dependent on answering intrusive questions. I may check back later to see if they have un-mandated it.

That, however, is me when I am being other than trans: a woman who doesn’t like intrusiveness…and is bolshie enough to make a fuss about same.


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Stace said,

    I love it – we need that information so it’s mandatory (even though it’s not) so please lie to us and make what ever data we do collect totally useless 🙂

    I guess no one explained the differrence between ‘Data’ and ‘Information’ to them…


  2. 2

    Stephanie said,

    The ‘mandatory lie’ – brilliant. Bureaucracy folding back on itself.

  3. 3

    FourFiveOne said,

    I spent a lot of time, back when I worked with government software, arguing for making fields non-mandatory. The standard approach seemed to be “this information might be useful, so make it compulsory, then people will always give it”. This even seemed to apply when the information might not exist, such as requesting the name of a stray dog, when it was just as likely that the report came from a passerby who had seen the dog as from the dog’s owner.

    My favourite has to be the mandatory requirement (fortunately completely dropped from the e-form when queried) for a telephone number for the person buried in a grave that had been descrated.

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