Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Government Identification and Gender

Yay! Australians now have another option for gender on their passports.
So this is great, buuuuuut... Can anyone tell me why gender is listed at all? Because I have yet to hear a useful reason and if you just remove it, then no one can use your passport to single you out for abuse. Let's think about it. There are more than two genders in the world, so it's not an either/or choice. Google 'intersexed' and then think about the numbers:
That's alot of future passport holders, so let's break it down:

What's the point of identification? To identify someone, right? Well, gender doesn't do that. Right now, most countries require you to 'fill our your form' with the gender assigned to you at birth, which may have nothing to do with your actual gender or your actual genitalia or your actual appearance. So if your mom's OB wrote down 'boy', based on intersexed genitalia that looked more boy-like than girl-like, and then you hit puberty and grew tits to go with your girl-like frame and face, you're still going to have to put 'male' on the dotted line and you're still going to look not-traditionally-male. As you can see, gender does nothing to describe someone, even if the slot were open like hair color is open. I mean, we all agree on what 'brown' and 'blonde' mean, but 'male' and 'female'?

More importantly, gender is not an identifying feature unless you are looking at someone's genitalia. It is akin to listing penis and breast sizes on a passport. Sure, it would be a fairly accurate descriptor, but ultimately not useful. Since that's not a reasonable means of identification, it should be dropped. (Especially since it can be used to single people out for abuse.)

To take another tack, let's think about this with analogies! Intersexed people (As in, biologically outside of the gender binary.) are almost as prevalent as redheads so I'll try that.

If gender were hair, then current wisdom says that we should list only blonde and brunette as hair color options, without regard to either the natural redheads, people whom are bald, or people who have chosen to change the outward color of their hair, for whatever reason. Listing only two hair colors would not be useful, because those two options don't help to describe people.

This has nothing to do with what you think about intersexed or transgendered people, nothing to do with political correctness, and everything to do with the intended purpose of a passport, which is to describe the identity and nationality of the holder.

No comments:

Post a Comment