A Man Has Died in Texas

A couple of years ago I received calls from two of my half-brothers telling me that this man had died. I have wondered often how I would feel about that moment when it came. The moment has passed and I’m still wondering about what to feel. You see, I’m not sure if I’m actually allowed to feel anything about this man’s passing.

I’m sad to hear about anyone’s passing, and at the same time, I’m always a little envious. Sad because of the hole that is left in that person’s loved ones, and envious because of the great adventure that the release from this mortal coil launches. This man was my biological father, but I wasn’t one of his loved ones.

He and my mother was very young when they became parents. Too young to know better. Mom told me that she wanted a baby because all her older friends were having babies. Arlie, that was the dead man’s name, told me that they were just two stupid kids. That, my friends, was how I came to be; the product of a fit of stupid envy.

The only name I could use for this man was Arlie. It was made very clear to me that I had a father and it wasn’t Arlie. The man who I called my Dad was the man who took me in and raised me. That man will always be my father.

For whatever reason, Arlie choose to stay away from me and my brother. He and my mother separated when I was two years old and they both moved on to new spouses and lives.  Mom had two more children and Arlie had three. I guess he really didn’t want me as part of his life, and it wasn’t until I was fourteen that I made the effort to find this mystery man.

Found him I did, and this began long series of attempts to impose myself onto him and his new family’s lives. I know that I made it very difficult for all involved including Mom, Dad and everyone else around me. I was determined to find answers that either they wouldn’t or couldn’t give.

Over time we would drift in and out of contact, but it was always my efforts that would re-establish the links. Arlie divorced his second wife and after a while remarried. I don’t know about Mom’s and Arlie’s marriage, but I do know that both of the women he married after my mother were wonderfully loving people who I learned a lot from.

The last really long interaction I had with Arlie was when he allowed me to move in with him and his third wife while I returned to college. I lived with them for almost a year and a half, and they were very generous and open. After that time, we lost contact again, and over the remaining twenty years of his life I only saw them a handful of times. I was the one who reached out each time.

I do believe that in his own way he loved me, and he truly believed that staying out of my life was the best thing for me.  I don’t how much of that is true, but I do know that I’m sorry that I’ll never see him again. So, I guess I do know now how I feel about his passing. I’ll miss you, Arlie.

Goodbye, Arlie.  Godspeed.

A Simple Request

I have a simple request, well maybe not so simple, but here goes. I request that the State of Texas change my certificate of birth to reflect my sex as female. I have recently passed a major milestone in my life. I have now lived longer since my corrective genital surgery than I ever lived mis-assigned at birth. Sounds simple enough, but the state of Texas continues to give mixed messages as to my identification.

I was born in a hospital in Dallas, Texas over a half a century ago. When I arrived in the delivery room the doctor counted ten fingers, ten toes and a very small, slightly deformed protrusion. He then ticked a box on a form, and hence I was assigned male. In Texas, that is the end-all and be-all of the sex determination process. You are labeled male for the rest of your days. I have to believe, even if I don’t know of anyone personally, that there are cases where babies born with indeterminate sex characteristics have been able to get the state to permanently change the certificate of birth to their preferred sex. These folks are the lucky ones and may whichever deity they ascribe to grant them peace and a happy life. I am not among these so fortunate.

Although my body would develop female secondary characteristics and lack most male secondary characteristics, the state of Texas continues to refer to me as a male on my birth certificate. I did transition completely to female early in life with the help of the kind folks at the Rosenberg Gender Treatment Clinic in Galveston, Texas. My reassignment surgery was performed by a Texas surgeon at the University of Texas Medical Branch also in Galveston. Of course, none of this means anything to the state of Texas. When I woke up after my surgery, the surgeon reached to shake my hand and say, “Congratulations, It’s a girl!” It did not make one difference, to the state of Texas I will always be the box that the doctor ticked when I was born. End of story.

Having physically corrected my body, I would even be willing to subject myself to the same-sex determination standard that applies to any of today’s new born babies. A doctor could exam me and find ten fingers, ten toes and the presence of labia, major and minor, and then tick a box on a form to assign me female. I am now a female bodied woman. I would like the state of Texas to recognize this.

I make the request of the state of Texas to change my certificate of birth for several reasons. First, the document is no longer accurate or truthful. Second, I would like to marry and stay married to a man. Lastly, I would like legal recognition and closure as the female bodied woman I am.

I am a woman, I have always been a woman and I will always be a woman. Though my body was categorized as male has really nothing to do with the fact that I am a woman. Science has confirmed that everyone has a mental body map. Mine is that of a female. When I close my eyes and picture myself if has always been of a girl and now a woman. I have gone as far as medical, technical, practical and theoretical science can go to match my physical body to my neural body map. If it were possible to grow or transplant ovaries and a uterus, I would. Had I been born two hundred years from now, I could possibly correct my chromosomes. Alas, I’m here in the twenty-first century and must be satisfied with our limitations.

I know that there are many in the transgender community who are now rolling their eyes, putting palm to face and exclaiming, “She’s pulling the ‘I’m more woman than you are’ card.” For those

who prefer to remain non-op (it doesn’t matter the reason) or those who claim that it doesn’t matter what is between your legs, I say run along. It does matter; and yes, I am more of a female bodied woman now than I was before the reassignment surgery. Females do not have functioning testicles and penises. Males do not have functioning ovaries and uteri. If they do, they do whatever it takes to correct this problem. This was true in ancient Rome, this was true in early eastern cultures and it is true today.

The second reason for making this request is for the right to marry a man, and remain married as husband and wife. The Texas courts have upheld the ruling that you are what you were assigned at birth; and the Texas constitution states that marriage is between a man and a woman. In 2009, Texas passed a family code to try to clarify its position on post-operative persons standing, but this has only confused the issue. One county will allow me to marry a man based on the Texas family code while another will not because it is a same-sex coupling.

Because of the state of Texas’ policy of you are what you were assigned at birth, I can only marry another person who was assigned as female at birth. On the face of this it would appear that Texas is okay with same-sex marriage, but that is not how they see it. It is still a union of a man and a woman. They could both be wearing the most elegant wedding dresses or the happy couple could appear in the most dapper of tuxedos and the state of Texas would see this as stunt.

I believe that person’s of the same-sex have a fundamental human right to marry. They deserve the same rights and privileges as persons of opposite sex couples to live a life of happy nuptial bliss. I do not want to have a same-sex marriage. I want to be able to marry a man of my choosing as a loving wife. Many LGBT activist including Lambda Legal have tried to discount my concerns by stating that once we have achieved marriage equality then the point would be moot. I disagree; I would still be recognized as a male marrying another male. Not the dream wedding I was planning.

In addition to the act of getting married, there is the problem of staying married. If my husband should decide that this marriage is not working for him, and if we are not in agreement, then he can easily file for an annulment claiming that I am not really a female and that same-sex marriages are illegal in Texas. Also, as discovered by Nikki Araguz, if my husband should pass away, his family can claim the same and discount and devalue the love and life that we had built together.

If the state of Texas would grant my simple request to change my certificate of birth to female and remove all references to a male past then the issue for women of transsexual history would be solved. I know that this would do nothing for the LGB’s and transgender of the state, but I would still be an ally and stand for what is right.

The last reason I make this request of my home state, though there are plenty that I could go on with, is for the hope for closure of this issue. I have been on a long, winding and costly journey to come into my own and this is one of the remaining items that hang over my head. The state of Texas had no problem in changing my driver’s license to female. The US government had no problem changing my Social Security or my passport.

When I request a copy of my current certificate of birth, it will arrive as a document in three parts. First the original document from the time of my birth; second, a document to append my record to reflect the name change to Marilyn, and lastly, a document to correct my record to change the sex from male to female.

I first thought that the correction made on the third document would be enough to satisfy my request. Sadly, after consulting a Texas lawyer that is a transsexual legal expert, she informed me that this is not the case. In Texas, I’m still what I was assigned at birth – A male.

Texas is a state of rugged individualist. To this day we Texans pride ourselves on going it our own way and doing it without help. One would think that my journey would be embraced and supported. I have since left my home state for the liberal bastion of the northeast United States.

What am I going to do to enable this? I intend to continue to make this simple request again and again until things are made right. I intend to write several letters on the Transsexual Independence Day – a set to my representatives in my new home state and a set to the elected leaders of the Great state of Texas. I will continue to donate to transsexual legal defense and education organizations.

I also plan to start opening up about my history and speaking out where I can. I don’t think that I’ll ever be a leader for the cause, but I want to be more visible to let people know that a normal person with a transsexual history deserves to get respect and understanding.