Thursday, November 11, 2010

A bit ridiculous - In my opinion

I was 7 years old the first time I encountered the terms Male and Female. I'd been sent to the office with some kind of form to be filled out. The secretary, Ms. Tibido, dutifully placed the form in her typewriter, (yes, I said typewriter) and began dictating the form as she typed.

Name: she said my name. Age: 7 Sex: Female.
Sex, I thought, cringing, what was she saying? That was like the forbidden word and all kinds of wrong in my seven your old world. What did you say? I said, moving closer so I could see the form. Yes, it said sex.
Sex: Female, she said. 
What do you mean, female? I said. I wasn't sure I wanted to be this term - female. 
Well, you are a girl aren't you? I could put down male if you want, she said.
Well, yes, I said, confused.
Yes, what?
I'm a girl, I said, I gripping my dress. At least, I was. What's female mean?  
It's just a fancy term for girl, she said. Female for girl and male for boy.  
Weird. I said. 
What would you like me to put?
Female I guess. I said. 

I have since become resigned to the fact that almost every form any government agency has requires the additional information of knowing what genitalia a person possesses. Don't get me wrong, I am a woman and I'm happy to be a woman and have no desire whatsoever to be a man, but is this what makes me who I am? Of course not, I'm much more than the organs I was born with. Nevertheless I was shocked to discover that my Yukon Drivers license neglects to specify this particular piece of information! Normally this wouldn't be such a bad thing. I dislike being place in boxes at the best of times and it's not like someone looking at me doesn't have some assumptions about my gender anyway. 

However, it turns out this lack of information could have devastating implications for traveling as I discovered quite by accident through a local news release which was forwarded to me. A woman was stopped from boarding a plane in Vancouver because her photo ID, her Yukon Driver's license, neglected to state her sex and according to airline policy her photo ID must have this piece of information. 

Yikes, I thought. Here I've just traveled from the Yukon all the way to Newfoundland (where I attended Piper's Frith - a writing retreat and mentorship program) and back and could have been stopped from boarding any of the planes. Phew, was I lucky the man with the silicone face mask and fake ID (another recent news story) hadn't been discovered earlier and forced the airlines to check their ID's and follow policies more closely. And yet I still have to wonder what it was that prompted a government so fascinated with knowing ones gender to omit this ridiculous piece of information from my ID?

I have been assured though that the "new" Yukon Drivers license, with all the bells and whistles as far as security features, does indeed have ones sexual gender on it. However, this means I have yet another task before I hop the plane to Vancouver next week - to update the drivers license I renewed last month. A feat, ironically, which requires more ID and documents to obtain than a passport (birth certificate, utility bill, health care card, old drivers license, picture ID, etc for a start... hope I don't have to dance too). It's a good thing we are not still awaiting this technology or we would all be SOL when it comes to traveling. 


  1. An alternative is to carry a passport or birth certificate in addition to your homemade Yukon driver's license. It does seem bizarre though, doesn't it?

  2. Reminds me of the first time I encountered the acronym for "social insurance number"...

    Name? SIN?

    Huh? (with a confused look) What do you mean? Like if I committed any sins?

    I was about 13 and at a cadet camp. After the woman laughed her head off, told her colleague, then said, "That's one I'll never forget," she explained to me what it meant. Talk about embarrassing.

  3. Thanks for the alternatives Rachel and for your social insurance number story Carole, definitely a good one. And yes, Rachel, it does seem a bit odd. That's our government - if it's not one thing it's another. And to think we're paying them for this....