UPDATE: Andrea was interviewed on the Michelangelo Signorile Show, Nov 17th, on Sirius OutQ 108. You can listen to a recording here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwIfckTlMcY
It really caused me great consternation when I heard the story of Andrea Jones on WATE channel 6 last night. Jones had visited her local Tennessee driver’s license office to attempt to have the gender marker on her driver’s license changed from “M” to “F”.
Of course, she was refused.
From the WATE report:
The rules regarding change of gender marker are dictated by the Tennessee Department of Safety. They will change the sex on a license “if an applicant presents a doctor’s statement indicating that a full sex change has occurred and the procedure is complete.”
This overlooks the fact that many transsexuals do not have sex reassignment surgery (SRS). The greatest impediment is cost. Few people have $14,000 – 20,000 available in disposable income to fund such surgery. Instead, many transsexuals opt for surgeries that are less expensive but actually enhance their ability to “pass” in their true gender, like breast augmentation. There are also many transsexuals that do not feel the need to have SRS. They have found happiness and contentment in living as their true gender and do not believe that additional surgery will improve their happiness.
This state requirement is at odds with the federal government. Under federal guidelines, Ms. Jones is considered female by the Social Security Administration and by the State Department.
Further complicating this issue is that Tennessee is the only state in the United States of America that has passed a law, T.C.A. §68-3-203 (d), which explicitly forbids changing the sex on a birth certificate: “The sex of an individual shall not be changed on the original certificate of birth as a result of sex change surgery.”
So for all legal purposes, Ms. Jones is considered a man by the State of Tennessee. Further insulting her humanity, the officers involved in her arrest referred to her as “Mr. Jones” as demonstrated in the following statement to WATE, “Mr. Jones continued to yell that he had the right to show his breasts in public and wanted to be recognized as a female.”
Andrea had a well intentioned point to make. If the state will only recognize her as a man, then she should have every right to bare her chest like every other over-weight, cigarette smokin’, tobacco spittin’, shit farmin’ redneck in Morristown does. She argues that the state cannot have it both ways.
However, the State, at least in Morristown, lacks the gift of deductive logic. She was immediately arrested for indecent exposure which carries the possibility lifetime inclusion in the National Sex Offender Registry, jail time, fines, and probation.
Andrea was incarcerated for 21 days in the Morristown City Jail – as a male. She was pressured, badgered, and coerced every day to confess to committing indecent exposure and plead guilty with only a two day sentence. She refused. “I’m stubborn,” she told me on the telephone. In truth, she says that she could not stand the thought of serving time without something positive coming out of it. She wanted her day in court. Indeed she will have it. her hearing is set for December 20th and I’d like to pack the courtroom with her supporters.
Because of her incarceration, she lost her job. She was employed at American Book Company through LaborReady for over a year. As a temporary contract worker, she was recently assigned responsibility for a production line. Even so, things weren’t always rosy at work. She’d been denied restroom use because she is transsexual, but ironically, required to wear a bra – again, the double standard. (I have sent a message to company president, Pat O’Connor and am currently awaiting his response.)
It was a rough week for her too. Just prior to the arrest, she lost her grandfather.
Andrea wants to see this through. She believes she did nothing wrong and I agree with her. With both agree, it is about time that this shit stop. Leaving people in a genderless legal limbo does nothing but complicate their lives.
From our conversations, I truly believe Andrea is a good person with a good heart, but she just had enough. She lives in the Dandridge area and desperately needs a job. She currently walks wherever she needs to go, sometimes up to 10 miles. If you say anything about her, you cannot say that she is a quitter. She is determined. If ANYONE that reads this has a contact in the Dandridge area that would hire this young woman, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP!
If any of you read my blog, you know that when I get behind a cause, I give all the effort that I can. Further, after raising money for the Stutte family, raising money for an insulin pump, and raising money for Duanna Johnson’s funeral expenses, I hope you all know that I’m a good steward of your money.
Andrea has asked for nothing and expects nothing. However, I know it has to be tough trying to rebuild your life after losing your grandfather, losing your job and then being imprisoned for almost a month. This girl needs a break. I think our community can afford to help her get one. Please donate using the ChipIn widget on my sidebar (Donations now closed).