Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bastardy pure and simple

Nearly a year ago I put up a post about the spontaneous sex change that a close friend Zoe Brain was undergoing. Since then she has become much more comfortable with the changes that are happening. She feels much more comfortable as a woman than she ever did as a man. Her appearance has changed. A lot!

Some oddities now make more sense. There is still a lot of medical stuff that doesn't so far.

There has been a lot of support from friends. Most people who know about the situation have in one way or another tried to make things easier for her.

But there have been exceptions.

She will be needing gender reassignment surgery. The operation will be done in Thailand because that is where the best surgeon for her case is.

She is now doing a PhD at ANU. She will need to travel overseas during this.

To do this she needs a new Australian passport showing her current gender. Someone at the Australian Passport Office or more likely above them is being difficult. Her application for a new passport has been knocked back.

They claim she has provided insufficient proof of identity. She has supplied them with all the documentation that their website asks for and more. Before they will issue a passport with a sex different from that on the birth certificate they want want letters from medical practitioners detailing examinations including results of surgery. (Which of course hasn't happened yet.) Simply she doesn't fit into the usual categories and so she is being denied a passport.

It looks as if the culprit is the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer. The appeal was rejected by “Policy” very quickly. He has changed the policies in ways which make it harder for transsexuals and the intersexed to get passports.

Why? He is rather socially conservative and presumably the idea of transsexuality and intersex makes him uncomfortable. The discomfort is not an evil. What he does because of it is. Presumably he looks down on such things and does not regard transsexuals and the intersexed as persons deserving any respect or support.

He has betrayed his office. His job is to look after the interests of all Australians traveling abroad. The discrimination against Zoe is oppression. As an Australian citizen she is entitled to a passport unless there are very substantial reasons to deny her one. None exist.

He obviously thinks he is right. So does any bigot! It is no excuse. Why he believes he is right is probably moral cowardice, intellectual laziness and lack of empathy for people like Zoe. He is making no effort to put himself in the position of people who don't fit into his neat categories. Like many social conservatives he is seeing choice where there is none.

He definitely deserves a good kicking. If what Zoe is trying to do doesn't work out I think bloggers should put on bother boots and join to deliver said kicking. (Don't do it yet. We're not certain he is guilty and even if he is he should be given the opportunity to change his mind without loosing face too much. The aim is for Zoe to get her passport, not for us to vent our anger.)

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