Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Close Enough for Government Work?

So Matt was running around printing out passport forms and gathering needed information and signatures yesterday to get passport renewals for himself and the kids - I'm on a different cycle, and I said I was happy to take the kids' forms in but he's taking Angus to Florida next week-end for a baseball showcase so he said he might as well just do them all. We thought we had everything squared away, and he left this morning to go to the passport office.

As I was getting ready to leave for the gym, he swept back into the house on an immense wave of irritation, having gotten to the part where the preliminary person scans your documents and been informed that Angus is now an adult and needed the longer form filled out. Which is annoying, particularly since neither of us had noticed that that fact is mentioned in writing right at the top of all the passport forms, and reading is kind of supposed to be my thing - it's nice that Matt didn't mention that, now that I think of it. But government forms are kind of like online courses for me - no matter how many times I go over everything, details escape me - it is troubling and headache-inducing. ANYWAY. We printed out the longer form, I slapped my signature on where required, and off he went, because he was IN THIS now, and goddamn it, it was GETTING DONE.

It didn't get done.

I worked out, went down to get groceries and he called while I was going through the grocery store checkout. Turns out that since Angus is an adult, he has to apply IN PERSON if he needs express service. So, yeah, huge pain in the ass, but (plot twist) that's not actually the point to this story. As I'm walking my groceries to the car and unloading, Matt tells me the story of what happened as the forms which actually could be processed were being processed.

The white, middle-aged man at the wicket, looking slightly uncomfortable, says to Matt, "sir, it might be helpful for you to know that in six months there are going to be changes to the forms and there will be more options for gender categories". Matt says, well, great, wondrous diversity and all that, but....? The man then says hurriedly "....there's certainly nothing wrong with the way you're doing it now, I just..." Matt is increasingly baffled and doesn't know what to say. The man concludes ".... or this might all just be a huge misunderstanding." Matt looks at the passport and form in the man's hand, which are Eve's, and the man puts them down and points out the discrepancy.

And then we realized that we, two double-degree-holding university-educated reasonably intelligent (we thought) parents, had somehow managed to let our daughter walk around for five years with a passport that said she was male.

Which is not that big a deal, unless it had caused some kind of problems while we were traveling. But, well, nobody noticed, so whatevs. But now Matt is trying to figure out how to say this: "Can I say 'she's really a girl'? I guess. I shouldn't say 'she doesn't have a penis', because that doesn't necessarily mean... shit!" He settled on "yeah, that M was a mistake. Sorry."

So, you know, nobody's arguing that there isn't more work to be done to make people who don't fit into neat little categories feel accepted and comfortable in this society. But it gives me hope to think of these two middle-aged white dudes standing in a government office trying very, very hard to say and do the right things.


6 comments:

Swistle said...

Oh! That is surprisingly touching!

Julie Leclair said...

that's awesome. except for all of the messed up forms and stuff.

Steph Lovelady said...


That is sweet.

And it reminds me that we've haven't faced a form with M/F options since North came out. Ugh.

Helen Abbott said...

Fabulous story. And a great telling of it.

Sasha said...

I could totally hear the "dun dun dun" after "It didn't get done."

Nicole said...

That's amazing no one caught that before hand! Great story!