There are times – there really are – when a certain sort of trans determination to make issues all about t’tranz, and therefore miss the fact that the interests of other groups, other communities might need to be taken into account is just a tad irritating.
Other times, its quite worrying too.
I’m not going to rehash the arguments gone through a little, over the past few days about the subject of name change. Or rather,”identity” and “security”. Well, not much anyway. Rather,the question today is why a chunk of the trans community itself is so determined not just that it ISN’T a problem, but that whatever it is, its best left alone. Cause, y’know, stirring things could just make matters worse for “US”.
Besides, there isn’t much of a problem anyway: and I’ve been told. A handful of commenters here, on this blog – which does have a wide trans readership – haven’t “had problems”. So pipe down, Jane: go expend your energy elsewhere.
When is a problem (not) a problem?
Let’s qualify that. There is first up the nature of “problem”: just because one individual doesn’t have a prob doesn’t mean there aren’t issues. And here, I see issues of two types. First, there is process that goes badly, either leaving people frustrated and humiliated and having to expend disproportionate energy to get a result: and there’s systemic problem, where a process itself is ill-founded.
The first is judgment call: when is a problem really a problem? And the answer is difficult, since its really a matter that merges degree and frequency. Something incredibly minor that afflicts 20% of the population might, f’rinstance, be less problematic than something very serious (like access to cancer treatment) that only goes wrong one time in a thousand.
This particular issue lies somewhere in the middle of that – although I’d also say,given the interest from business, that an underlying systemic issue exists and needs to be addressed.
What I can report, since I’ve been banging on about this for about two years now, is that while the experience of the trans community around this issue is variable, there are a lot of bodies out there, including many financial institutions,Government and NGO’s and pressure groups that DO find the name change thing troubling, and are actively seeking alternatives. W
hich is another reason for staying involved: that its not just a case of Jane Fae stirring things that woulod better be left alone. Its me joining a debate that’s happening already, largely without input from those in the end most affected.
The problem(s) have got decidedly worse in the last decade – multiple causes, including government concern with ID theft, terror and money laundering: and that maklesthe evgidence of those from before 2000 decidedly dodgy.
Reasons to be bolshie
As for my own “agenda”: I’ve worked and written in and about IT, security,data protection for nearly 25 years. The issues involved closely match my own skill set and knowledge base: and I’m a fixer. When I see business getting things wrong, I muck in. That’s it.
And while my attention to the issue was probably drawn, first and foremost, by the trans experience, it really isn’t much or mostly about t’tranz. Oh, sure:writing about the issue this week, I’ve picked up two more cases where flawed name change procedures could have caused severe difficulties for trans women: in one instance preventing her from progressing her transition medically. But those are very much a minority.
Male privilege, cis privilege, trans privilege?
More, for all that trans folk frequently complain about cis privilege, I begin to wonder if this isn’t a place where there is either such a thing as trans privilege – or trans folk aren’t holding on to a residue of the cis version of same. Or something.
Consider. In analysing this out, I argued that the principal victims of name change stupidities were (cis) women. Sometimes it’s a lot of low level hassle for large numbers (like Banks refusing to change title from Ms to Mrs without excessive documentation): sometimes its mega issue for a few. Along the way I spoke to a small group of women who had changed their name because of childhood abuse: and these were later forced, bank procedure being utterly careless of why they’d changed name, to assert their original names in order to access accounts.
For these, organisational intransigence was not a small thing: it was traumatic,vile, upsetting.
I tentatively suggested, also, that the reason these systems were so unflexible was that in most cases they had been designed by blokes, with little or no awareness of how the issues impact on women. You still doubt that? Just head out to mumsnet, and start a thread on name change: I can guarantee you’ll pick up stories by the dozen.
Which is where I see the trans trope – the “its all about us” cornering of the issue – as itself problematic. Because for many undergoing transition, it’s a once-off obstacle: or at least perceived as such at the time. It’s a biggy, something that needs to happen at the beginning: but once done its done and people move on with their lives. So what if the procedure – including unnecessary deed polling – isn’t optimum.: “We’re OK. So that’s OK. OK?”
Unfortunate, to say the least. Certainly raising questions about how far trans men and women “get” the wider implications.
Enough. That’s gentle chiding, as opposed to Nanny McPhee-ish, er, nannying. Its also, I guess, kickback at the presumption that because I have a presence in the trans community, everything I do must first and foremost be about t’tranz. Actually, it ain’t. As I’ve possibly mentioned elsewhere: I was a campaigner on a host of issues long before my experiences here: and I expect to continue to campaign on a wide range of (non-trans) for some time to come.