Gender Confusion

Well, here’s one more thing you should probably know about the new pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church.  I would have mentioned it sooner, but I only just found out myself.

I went to get my new Virginia driver’s license several weeks ago, but didn’t notice until after I left the Department of Motor Vehicles that right there on the front of the card, just under the word sex, was a small capital “F.”  That’s right: Female.  I laughed about it and thought I would ignore it until a few weeks later when I was going through airport security.  The security officer looked at my driver’s license, looked at me, and then looked back down at the license.  She didn’t say it, but I could almost hear her thinking, “She looks like a man but it says here she’s a woman.”  It happened again on my next trip and since the airport is not a place you want to arouse the suspicions of security officers I decided to get it fixed next time I went to the DMV.  That turned out to be today.

I recently bought the car I’ve been leasing for the last three years and needed to get it registered.  So, I went to the DMV with a sheaf of documents in my hand, got my number (B148), and sat down to wait.  When they called me up a little later I showed my papers to the man behind the counter and explained my situation.  “I want to register my car and get some Virginia license plates,” I said, eagerly.  I had been looking over the options while I waited and was excited about the possibility of getting one of those “vanity plates,” although I didn’t know what I would put on it if I did.  I need not have worried.  After looking over my papers the man behind the counter (who had some very interesting tattoos) said I was missing the crucial document and that I would have to come back when I had it. 

“Well, while I’m here,” I said, “can I ask you about this?”  And then I showed him my driver’s license.  “It says I’m an ‘F,'” I said, “but I am not now nor have I ever been an ‘F.'” 

“Hmmm,” he said, looking at the card and then looking up at me.  “Hold on a second.” 

And then he went to talk to his supervisor.  When he came back a minute later he gave back my license and apologized.  “I’m sorry,” he said, “but you’re going to have to come back with your passport or birth certificate…something that identifies you as a male.” 

I looked at him in disbelief. 

“You’d be surprised at some of the people we get in here,” he said, smiling. 

I took my driver’s license and left the building slowly, still shaking my head over what had just happened.  In the end I wrote it off as just another encounter with the DMV.  I’ll get my documentation together; I’ll go back on another day; I may even get one of those vanity license plates.  But I’m glad I didn’t get it today.   If I had it would have read:

7 thoughts on “Gender Confusion

  1. Jim,
    Have you written a book? If you do, please put me on the list for a signed copy – you are a master story teller and I find myself laughing outloud – the “would be” license plate selection – perfect!! If you do go with the vanity plate, I am sure you will come up with something unique. As Mr. Buckles stated, “Welcome to Virginia” ! (from VANGOES)

  2. Well, Pastor Jim, this is a new and untapped possibility for promoting the cause of women in ministry. Thanks, as always, for being a prophetic groundbreaker . . . .

  3. Pastor Jim, please allow me to apologize on behalf of DMV for your recent unfavorable encounter with us. As a state agency, DMV literally comes in contact with more customers than any other agency in the Commonwealth. We make every effort to comply with the hundreds of laws that the legislators (people representatives) pass annually and at the same time provide our customer with the very best service we can.
    We are directly and indirectly involved in millions of transactions; and out of those millions we are proud to say that our error rate is extremely low. But, we do make mistakes.
    Our mission is to promote security, safety and service and our vision is to provide PEAK (People Ethics Accuracy Knowledge) service— everyone, every time.
    Again, I am very sorry that you were the beneficiary of less than the high standard of service we strive to provide each and every one of our customers.
    If I can assist in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me.

  4. Pastor Jim – thanks for this. It gave me a laugh, for personal reasons.

    Though if I were you I’d get it sorted ASAP. Such a situation can be very dangerous. You don’t know the signs to look for, nor how to avoid violence. Many people don’t treat those with a male appearance and female ID very well, and if stopped by the police, it could end up badly.

    The National Transgender Day of Remembrance mourned 138 people killed this year. Most people who have mismatched ID in Virginia have had at least one stay in the ER, if not the ICU.

    It’s a bit like someone who’s white having been given ID that says “Black” about a hundred years ago, if you know what I mean.

  5. Zoe: Thanks for writing, and for your extremely respectful dialogue with Marshall. I’m going to let the two of you continue that discussion privately, if you like, but we’ve all learned much from both the content and tone of this discussion!

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