Sunday, March 22, 2009

Self-Identification Form

So, like the good broke college student that I am, I've spent this, the Friday night of my spring break, filling out job applications for the summer.

Whilst pursuing these endeavors, I made a crack to my best friend about applying to Hallmark, which prides itself on being a fine upstanding Christian establishment, and how hiring me, a queer transgendered anarchist lesbian, would probably go against all of its principles.

Enclosed within the application were three additional papers: one about submitting to a background check, another about living in California (which is irrelevant to me) and another that is called a Self-Indentification Form.

The Self-Identification Form is what I'm here to talk about. The form begins with a disclaimer about the company's non-discrimination clause, which thankfully includes "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." So far, I'm impressed.

Then, the paragraph after that explains that the company allows its employees to self-identify their gender and ethnicity, instead of having to rely on what is stated on birth certificates and driver's licenses. Now, I'm beyond impressed; I'm ecstatic.

After that comes the actual process of self-identifying. The form starts with gender, and is formatted like so:

What is your gender? (Please check only one box)
_ Female _ Male

Um... I'm confused.


No, really, that's my answer. I'm confused. What the hell do I check when what gender I am is just as mercurial as what pair of underwear I'm going to put on in the morning? This is almost harder than having to deal with whatever label they slap on you as soon as they pull you out and slap you on the ass. If I check one, I'm lying. If I check the other, I'm still lying. And, not for nothing, when you're an in-the-closet transgender whose mother insists on looking over every job application before submittal, checking "Male" when you've got a vagina raises more than just a couple eyebrows.

I wish I didn't have to complain because this really is an innovative step forward in the process of gender eradication. But it just hasn't gone far enough. What would really have been effective would have been if, after "What is your gender?" the form offered a line upon which one could write their preferred gender. Or, instead of "What is your gender?" they asked "What pronouns do you prefer?" and then either offered options or left a "fill in the blank" space.

In fact, let's expand the whole self-identification form itself:

What is your gender? (Optional) ____________________
What pronouns do you prefer? _____________________
What is your preferred name? _____________________

I know, I know, that's cumbersome. But gender -is- cumbersome, which is why it shouldn't exist at all! In fact, let's remake the Self-Identification Form once more, and erase the "What is your gender?" question altogether. And then let's work on erasing it from EVERY form, and every application, and every conversation we have.

Until then, I'm gonna go sit over here, stare at this paper, and figure out how to check off the space in between the two boxes.