The Role of Government in TS Transitions

    • 539 posts
    December 10, 2003 2:02 AM GMT
    This issue came up in the general board, and I thought I should expand upon it here.

    What is the proper role of government in regulating and managing the transitions of transsexuals? Some governments refuse to recognize this at all and often allow discrimination against transsexuals. Others allow people to make the changes and only minimally interfere in the process. Yet others regulate it very closely, requiring the approval of bureaucrats and mental health professionals at every step of the way.

    Here is my opinion on this issue. I live in the United States, where there is a strong tendency in society for people to mistrust the government, and often with very good reason. Basically, the government has no business interfering in people's private lives. If someone wants to transition, the government does not have the right to second-guess the decision. It is up to the transsexual, in consultation with the medical community and friends and family, to decide this, and the government's role is to facilitate the process and to protect people from discrimination and violence.

    Once certain conditions are met, the government should be obligated to grant legal changes. Name changes should be considered a right - the government should be obligated to grant this unless a person is trying to defraud creditors by making this change. Changing the gender on the driver's license or state ID should happen when a person goes full time (and this could be verified by an employer's note or a doctor's note if necessary). Not changing the gender on the ID can put a transsexual into dangerous situations, so from a safety standpoint, this change is necessary. Finally, when a person has SRS (or cannot have SRS for medical reasons, but has lived successfully in the new gender role for a long time) it should be possible to amend the birth certificate and make the gender change legal in all aspects of life.

    Over-regulation of this process by the government is offensive. The government does not know best, and when it claims to, it is usually wrong. Bureaucrats should not be given that kind of power over decisions of a personal nature. Non-recognition of this condition, however, is also bad. This is a condition recognized by the medical community, and the proper treatment methods are well-understood. This is also a vulnerable minority group which often needs the support of government in countering discrimination and violence, and the primary role of government is to protect its citizens from each other, so it has a place in this area.

    Does anyone here have different opinions? What are the supposed benefits, if any, of heavy government regulation, like the system seen in Finland and other European countries? Or do those TSs who live in these countries resent the interference? I would certainly resent it if I lived there.

    Heather H.
  • December 10, 2003 5:58 AM GMT
    Yes Heather

    In Finland the only legal way to hormones goes through governmental screening program. It lasts 6 months in minimum, I spent there more than 10 months. Now I stand in line for the endocrinologist, the line is 3 months long.
    I have had an illegal HRT for more than a year and I don´t pass as a man any more. Last monday I got the official diagnosis "transsexual". Yet the governmental program refuses to give me the documents for the name change "because they don´t want to encourage others to illegal hormons". So...they punish me. At job everything is okay, I´m welcomed there as female...with a male name.
    This is not a good system. Everything depends on opinions of 2 people. On their like or dislike... They is no alternative.

  • December 11, 2003 5:34 AM GMT
    They claim also here that the majority of those who enter the governmental ts screening will be dropped out before the end. Only I don´t know any of these personally, where are they?
    I am going to go the path all the way, including the SRS. So, I am in that 5%. But really...nobody seems to know the majority. We are a small ts community in this country, it is hard to believe that they can hide themselves.

    • 1083 posts
    December 12, 2003 12:07 AM GMT
    Heather, hon--

    I'm with you. I do not trust my Government to do a lot of quote the old feminist argument, "It's my body and I have a right to manage it as I choose."

    Name changes are so simple anymore, but the Gov figures since, they are all crooks and con people, so are we. Hence the problems.

    Of COURSE there is overregulation. It takes a bureaucrat to kill a forest for paper to print senseless, inane slop that we call laws from time to time. FEH!

    The Government should NOT be in the Healthcare business, anyway.

    Luv 'n hugs anyway,

    "Almost Angel, T-Girl Genius, and Ultra-Flirt"
    • 1195 posts
    December 12, 2003 6:32 PM GMT
    True the government should mind its own business but they believe they "gotta make a buck" so they over regulate everything from birth to death. Unfortunate, in the US we were brought up to believe the good guys always wore white hats - surprise! There - that's my two cents.
    • 27 posts
    December 12, 2003 7:55 PM GMT
    I think that the government is more driven by the acceptability of something by society than by its own efforts to regulate things. There is the fraud thing but in the US you can do anything anyway legal or illegal without much fuss. It is very easy for con men or women to get what they want in this country it just takes time and intelligence. On the other hand if Transgenderism was more acceptable in society they would just keep the lists on file with the FBI like everything else and not give much fuss about it.

    • 539 posts
    December 14, 2003 6:57 PM GMT
    I knew this topic would get people going.

    To recap, I agree with the sentiments expressed by most people so far that the government should keep out of transitions to the extent possible. We are all adults. We deserve the right to do as we please with our bodies, even if we make mistakes. It is not the job of government to attempt to prevent us from making mistakes. Everybody's freedom suffers when the government interferes in our personal lives.

    Heather H.
    • 539 posts
    January 6, 2004 3:03 AM GMT
    Stevie, you practically took the words out of my mouth. Your latest long post reflects my philosophy on this. We need to be visible, but in a good way. There have lately been a few television documentaries and one or two TV movies which have portrayed TG people in a positive light. These have been run on commercial stations which wouldn't run them if they didn't think people would be interested. Perhaps those of us who are more "normal" are beginning to gain some visibility.

    I have stressed this in other posts, so I will not repeat it in detail here, but it is especially important for us to be good citizens and not to "rock the boat" too much or unnecessarily when and where such behavior is not warranted. (Of course, sometimes it is necessary to be confrontational or flamboyant, but those tactics should be used as a last resort.)

    Politicians will listen to us more if we are visible. Getting involved in the early stages of the elections, when most people are not interested, is a good way to gain access to politicians. In the U.S., every state is somewhat different in this regard, and I am sure other countries have their own systems, but I will explain how it works in Utah - maybe there is some similarity with other places.

    In March, the political parties hold neighborhood caucuses. There is a separate caucus for each precinct (a precinct consists of just a few adjacent neighborhoods). Often, the caucus takes place in someone's house or in some local community building (the location is announced in the newspaper), and it is a very informal affair in which people get ample opportunities to discuss the issues. At the caucus, precinct officers are elected, and delegates to the county and state conventions are elected. These caucuses are often so poorly attended that there are not enough people to fill all the available positions, so getting a position as a precinct officer or delegate can be as simple as volunteering for the office. People attending the caucuses also have the opportunity to volunteer to be election judges. Additionally, local political figures (elected officials or candidates) often visit the precinct caucuses in their districts - this is a great opportunity to gain access to them.

    Becoming a convention delegate can be worthwhile. Sometimes the conventions decide contested races before a primary can be held. For example, the Utah Democratic Party will nominate a candidate without a primary if that candidate receives a 60% vote of the convention delegates. Since the number of delegates is relatively small, candidates in contested races will make themselves very accessible to all of the delegates in the district. Again, this is a great opportunity for access. In the past, I have been a delegate twice, and I certainly appreciated the opportunity to have such close access to the candidates. During the next election cycle, I plan to attend the caucus, and I will see where that leads. Perhaps I will be a delegate again, or maybe I will volunteer for some other position. There are plenty of opportunities, and attending the party caucus is the best way to learn about them.

    Politicians and political parties are more receptive to people who make themselves known - either by making large campaign contributions or by simply "being there" at poorly-attended political events. At the local level, it is surprisingly easy to gain access to local officials and candidates. I have described how it works in Utah. If you are interested in becoming involved to this extent, and want to learn how it works in your area, contact the local office of the political party of your choice. I am sure they would appreciate your interest. Also, the local elections clerk can be a good source of information.

    We need to become more involved and more visible at the local level. If we are there at the early stages of the political process, we will be hard to ignore. It isn't enough to "get out and vote" on the general election day. It is far better to, in addition, be at the neighborhood caucus as the election cycle is beginning.

    If anyone wishes to get involved at this level, go into my profile and send me an e-mail. I will give you as much advice and encouragement as I can.

    Heather H.
  • December 23, 2003 7:48 AM GMT
    Welcome back, Frances.

    I have to disagree with you about no one taking the discussion forward. I think we have on several occasions. Specifically, what "hairs" have we been splitting?

    We do know about the USA being a republic. That is one form of democracy. We have discussed that, too. LOL

    Yes, representatives are given quite a bit of power by the people, but why is that such a bad thing in itself, and what alternative do you suggest? It's very easy to oust any representative, if and when the people want to do so. All they have to do is vote the representative out of office in the next election. The people might not vote the way you or I would prefer, but that's not a sign of a failed system.

    As for getting everyone on the same side, how do you propose to do that? Some of us think big government is the answer, and some of us think limited government is the answer. How can those two diametrically opposed views be suddenly brought together?

    Could you offer a bit more detail regarding what you mean by " is conservative by nature. Which means we have to look at the T-girl community as a whole, acknowledging that there is dirty as well as clean washing in the wash basket, until we do such a thing I am of the belief that we will remain in crawling mode for sometime to come."? Have we not been looking at the tranny community as a whole?

    I think we're all prepared to listen to any practical suggestions you might have.
  • December 12, 2003 3:34 AM GMT
    I think the government should mind it's own business (in the USA, as outlined in the Constitution), as well.
    • 2127 posts
    December 13, 2003 12:19 AM GMT
    By coincidence, I just came across this page on the web today, outlining the British government's policy on trannies.[...]anssex/

    At least they are trying to introduce legislation that will make being transgendered a bit more acceptable but I don't think they're trying that hard.

    The Gender Recognition bill will go thru parliament when "Parliamentary time allows".

    After that, a "Gender Recognition Panel" will decide on applications from transsexual people who want legal recognition in their acquired gender.

    I don't know the answers but it's interesting to hear how different governments view the transgendered community. I'm not actually sure that any of them realize we have a community.

    I wonder how many British MP's and cabinet ministers are trannies? I wonder how many congressmen and state governors like to wear their wife's knickers?

    I wonder if Tony Blair or George Bush have ever tried dressing up? Bet they have!


  • December 13, 2003 4:14 PM GMT
    Katie, how does your government define transsexual? SRS only?

    Regarding governments in general, consolidation and centralization of power is part of government's nature. Any government will always try to maintain and, if possible, increase the power it holds over the people. That's why we have constitutions defining and limiting the size and scope of our governments' powers. Unfortunately, ignorance, apathy, and corruption on behalf of the people themselves often allow governments to grow far beyond their intended purposes.

    I think we have a perfect system in the USA. It's perfect because ultimate control is in the hands of the people. If we have responsible citizens, we'll have responsible governments; if we have irresponsible citizens, we'll have irresponsible governments. If things aren't right in our society, if our nation is in debt, if there are silly laws on the books, it's because the individual citizens are failing to meet their obligations as citizens of the nation and members of society, not because the system is failing. If we want improvement, we must improve ourselves, and then our governments (federal and state) will reflect those improvements. We can't expect to make things better by having the government define the people. The people must define the government, and that starts with each one of us.

    I don't know how it is in other countries, but in the USA, we have exactly what we've (as a group) asked for. Our elected officials don't come from another planet, they come from among us, and they reflect our values. Bill Clinton and George Bush were elected because they represented the values of the people who elected them, and in my opinion, I think we can do better. However, I don't think we will do better until the three things I mentioned above (ignorance, apathy, and corruption) are significantly reduced, and I'm referring to the voters/citizens, not the politicians. Corruption is very difficult to deal with, but there's no excuse for ignorance and apathy.

    We can't be perfect, an even if we could, we'd each have a different concept of perfection. My point is that as long as we continue to elect officials just because they support one or a few of our pet interests, even though we know they lie, cheat, and steal, (this applies to both the left and the right), we really have no business complaining the mess we've made for ourselves. Too many citizens fail to vote, too many don't know enough about ideology, issues, and candidates, and too many educated voters are willing look the other way for corrupt politicians who give them what they want, instead of doing what's best for the country.

    At any rate, I don't want the government, at any level, to dictate the path a tranny's life will follow. Government policy is dictated by too many whims and fads to be involved in our personal decisions. If mistakes are made, I'd rather they be our mistakes.
  • December 29, 2003 4:46 PM GMT
    Frances, I agree with your statement "man is conservative by nature," in the non-political context. Most individuals tend to fear significant change on the societal/cultural level, even if they embrace change in their personal lives. Understandably, the status quo represents normalcy, stability, and safety for most of us. It's no wonder that most representatives in government don't want to be seen as agents of change, when it comes to social issues.

    I also agree that, if we want the general public and the politicians on our side, we trannies should be putting our best foot forward, collectively. Pride parades and awareness marches are fine, but even if there's just one or two wild participants, that's who shows up in the news to mess it up for the rest of us. We M-to-F trannies have to demonstrate that we're just like anyone else, only trans. They should be made to understand that we trannies represent no real danger to society (despite the perceptions of many), and that a new status quo which included acceptance of trannies would not make their lives any different (although it would mean a wonderful difference for us).

    I think most of us would agree on that. The question is, how do we go about gaining acceptance? The homosexual community is on the right path, and while there is still more to be done, homosexuals are much more accepted as a normal element of society today than when I was growing up. How did they accomplish this? Should we follow their lead, or go a different way? Should we chip away slowly, at the grass roots level, one tranny at a time (like Rikki and Heather, who have recently made the transition), or do we need immediate national attention and support, or a combination? I think we have to approach the situation from every avenue available to us, simultaneously.

    In order to get national support (the backing of legislators and their constituents), I would think it helpful to have high-profile role models. As with homosexuals, people need to see that 1) we exist all around them, not just gathered in San Francisco (or other popular stereotypes), and 2) there's nothing wrong with us. In the recent past in the USA, gay characters were never in the spotlight on television or mainstream movies, but now there have been several shows (even if most are just sitcoms, and even though I don't watch them - LOL) that actually feature gay characters, not just treat them as comedy relief roles. Decades ago in the USA, the same was true for television shows that featured black characters, but now we all consider black and white characters as being equally mainstream.

    Even though the Internet has now assumed a prominent role in our daily lives and taken away some of the power from television, television is still an important way to both reflect and influence our culture's values. Perhaps someone will be successful in getting some positive (or at least normal) TG/TS/TV role models on television, so that others can see that we all aren't crazy over-sexed drag queens with no fashion sense. LOL Politicians usually need something tangible - some reference points - before they embrace a given cause, and that's where we come in. We have to provide them with reasons to fight for us. Maybe television is only one means to do that, but I think it's a good example of what I'm trying to demonstrate. Local organizations, such as the Tennessee Vals, where I live, and international groups, such as Trannyweb, could do things to be more visible to politicians, in positive, non-confrontational ways. I'm sure some groups have already done things along this line, such as meeting with local elected officials, to make them aware of the presence of TG/TS/TV voters and their concerns (as well as non-tranny voters who support the TG community).

    Of course, popular opinion is that politicians rarely fight for anyone other than themselves, so they have to think that their careers will be helped by helping us. Whether they support our cause for our sakes or for themselves is not as relevant as getting them to support our cause. Unfortunately, we have to understand the system and the way politicians and voters think. There are some politicians who would genuinely care about us as trannies, but not enough to make a difference, in my opinion. We have to focus on getting the support of anyone who can make a difference, even if their motives are selfish. We'll never be able to make any one politician change his own personal values, unless he really wants to do so, from within. However, we can get politicians to work for us, which is supposed to be their job as our representatives, in the first place. It all begins with voting, though. If we (we = anyone who supports TG/TS/TV issues) aren't registered and active voters, politicians won't value our opinions.
  • January 8, 2004 2:47 AM GMT
    Good advice, Heather. It all starts at the local levels.

    My "latest long post"? LOL Thanks.