Today I received a registered letter, brought to my door by the postman. This alone implied special treatment, but the letter’s contents were shocking. The Australian government had sent me a Recognised Details Certificate, which is their way of acknowledging that a non-native Australian resident has a new gender. Finally, nine years after my gender re-assignment process began, I am a man.
As I write this, I feel overwhelmed with the power of this statement. In my head, I’ve been male since I was born. I am now 57 years old.
At the time of my gender transition just over nine years ago, aged 47, it was possible to legally change to a male name, which I did a couple of years into transition. It seemed like a very long wait. Everything does in early transition – the body hair, the beard, the voice drop and physique. I became eligible for chest surgery one year after transition, so I signed up for that too.
However, at that time it was not readily available to change gender with the Australian authorities without having genital reassignment surgery. In the case of female-to-male transgendered people, genital surgery was not as advanced back then as it is now. It required multiple surgeries that were arduous and expensive yet results were fairly unpredictable. Many female-to-male transgendered guys I knew chose not to have this surgery. The risk of complications was high and the resulting constructed genitalia often looked unconvincing and would only be partially functional. I didn’t even consider it. Who wants a $50k dick that doesn’t work?
So today, since the laws in Australia have changed about what a real man is, I have received governmental blessing to be known as a man. I can apply for a male passport. For any man reading this, can you imagine what it might be like to travel on a female passport for 9 years? To be stopped by immigration or the police and frisked or interviewed? To have air stewards look at your ticket and laugh at the ‘mistake’ the airline booking agent had made? To be very nervous on international flights, for fear they would not board a person with gender irregularities?
I don’t know who fought to change the rules, how they succeeded or how many men and women have been affected, but for all my brothers and sisters who no longer have to suffer the indignities of a wrongly gendered legal identity, I am profoundly relieved. For myself, I am euphoric.
Thank you everyone for permission to be a man, however redundant that permission may be.
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