By Megan Carpentier
Sunday, June 13, 2010
The recession is causing the paperwork to pile up. For transgender people this is particularly tough. Every application for work or government assistance contains the possibility of probing and intrusive questions of sexual identity.
(WOMENSENEWS)--As the recession takes a deeper toll on jobs, income and wages, more Americans are filling out forms for jobs, unemployment insurance, Medicaid and food stamps.
It's a labyrinthine process for anyone. But for transgender people, it often comes with a particularly upsetting price: outing themselves.
Riley, a 28-year-old transman working as a teacher's aide in New York, who asked that his last name be kept private, began his on-the-job transition without any grand announcement.
He simply turned up for his first day of work at school looking, he thought, like a man.
The children agreed, but the teacher under whom he was working kept calling him "she." Having to explain to his adult boss something the children understood instinctively was just the start of the small humiliations.
Unemployment brought new ones, when he had to appear in person to apply for his card for Medicaid. His paperwork was inconsistent.
He had recently updated his New York State license to identify him as male, but his Social Security card identified him as female. That's because he didn't meet the federal requirement of having undergone permanent surgery.
His birth certificate also said he was female because his home state of Georgia won't allow him to change it under any circumstances.
"The guy who was processing my paperwork was some old guy, so I just sort of threw my papers on the table and stared at my knees, knowing I was going to have to explain," said Riley.
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