California gender classifications

Our group at work participated in a database tuning course, during which we needed to create a sample database. One of the columns was “Gender” Discussion about the best datatype resulted in a binary enum i.e. “Male/Female: pick one.”

Now, we’re up here in Ontario. The instructor was from Texas (we mutually loved each other’s accents). She deadpanned, “Wouldn’t work at the California DMV. They have 19 gender classifications.” We moved on to other topics, and never was there an indication that was a joke.

Is it true? Does California - or anywhere - officially recognize more than two gender classifications? Even if not, are there 19 commonly used terms? Best I can come up with is: male, female, homosexual man, lesbian woman, bi-male, bi-female, trans-man-now-woman, trans-woman-now-man. I don’t even know if there are terms used for the last two. Assuming animals don’t factor into the multiplicity, what else could there be?

Oh - maybe what I was for most high-school: autosexual.

Okay, that’s 9 tops.

I believe you were being whooshed there. I see lots of drivers licenses in my job. Every single one has either an “M” or “F” on it. And where I work I see people from all works of life.

Three minutes googling found the California DMV’s gender change form (PDF link). All combinations of ‘gender identification’, ‘demeanour’ and ‘complete/transitional’ doesn’t add up to nineteen.

Well, the Governor of California introduced the gender classification of “girly man”. Perhaps he knows of some others.

Manly-girl, Girly-girl, Manly-man, Manly-preoperative-Manlygirl,…

Nature’s Call, sexual orientation isn’t involved with gender identification. :slight_smile: By the way, the commonly used terms for transsexuals are mtf (male to female) and ftm (female to male), further specified by either pre-, post-, or non-op (surgery).

That particular form still results in either M or F on your driver’s license identification anyway. The fields are to be filled out by an MD or psychologist, and simply defines their appraisal of the patient’s current status - when I had mine filled out, I was living full-time as female for quite awhile, and was still marked as “transitional,” but my driver’s license was set to female (as defined by the id/demeanor fields). I’m not sure what happens if the doctor feels an incongruency and marks them as different - the DMV would probably refuse the change?

side note: many California DMVs will simply reject the form because it’s not widely known; I had to convince the manager to call the DMV office in Sacramento and speak to his higher-ups to confirm that the form was indeed valid. Two DMVs I’d been to previously simply refused to even acknowledge the possibility that you could change your name+gender without a court order, while one oddly enough thought I could change the gender but not the name…

No disprespect intended. I really thought the instructor was kiddinghe. I offered the story as a silly way to have fun on the board - as if I believed her. I had searched on Google too (okay, I guess I entertained the possibility she wasn’t kidding) and found nothing to indicate there was any truth to the statement. Where GorillaMan has google-fu, I only have google - f.u.

It looks like there was some truth to her statement. Maybe accents came into play and where she said, “nine/ten” I heard “nineteen” (still doesn’t add up, though).

Now that I’ve seen the form: What is meant by “demeanor”? Surely it doesn’t matter to the DMV that a man acts effeminate or a woman prefers crew cuts? Or does it meant to encompass cross-dressing (I hope that’s not an offensive term - it’s not meant to be)

Actually, how does that entire section parse? How would I, a “no doubt about it man and always has been” fill this out?

Gender identification: Male Female
Demeanour: Male Female
Gender id is Complete Incomplete

…and fill in my birthday for all dates? Would I leave off the check beside “complete” because that implies at one time it was incomplete, or would that unfairly serve to distinguish a former female now complete male?

Would F,M,C indicate a former man, post-op now a woman, who likes to dress as a man?

Effeminacy/mode of dress/behavior aside, there are other cues for gender. I think “demeanor” in this case refers to passability as a whole?

As a no doubt about it male… you would have no reason to use the DL328. :smiley: Also, you don’t fill it out, the MD/shrink does.

I have no idea what F, M, C would be. Might be a person expressing gender identification as female, but being “unpassable” (and therefore demeanor ‘male’), but then I would assume gender id is incomplete. I imagine the doc wouldn’t agree to fill out the form unless gender id and demeanor are congruent.

Khosh amadid, Azadeh khaharam. :slight_smile: Your name invokes freedom, I can definitely relate to the feeling. (I’m not Persian myself, I’ve studied it though, and admire what a beautiful, rich, expressive language it is.)

Evaluting someone on the basis of passability sounds incredibly cruel. I really am puzzled by what “demeanor” could mean and why they make it a criterion. I will ask about this. California is often the incubator for new ideas later taken up by the rest of the country. I expect in the near future more states will be putting in procedures like this to work gender transition into official recognition. They’ll be looking to the California model. Does it really need to be so complicated, though? Why not simply bring a letter from one of those medical authorities who have set themselves up as the gatekeepers of transsexuality? And I wonder if gender law as it is now starting to evolve will ultimately keep in place the de facto hegemony of the medical establishment over people’s gender identities, or contribute to people’s liberation.

My guess is that “demeanor” is a badly-phrased way of saying “presentation”; that is, the gender the person lives as.


I fear coming across as a redneck with my continued participation, but I’m really just ignorant:

My wife told me about a company-wide email at her work, “Robert is now Roberta and she is entitled to use the women’s bathrooms.” This seems cut and dried to me. Why the shades of sexual identity? Is it important to the DMV and bathroom police, or is this recognition out of respect for individuals in transition: i.e. to whom do shades of sexual id matter?

I’d have no problem treating Roberta as a woman. If I happened to know she’s formerly a man I would have to adjust, sure - but I wouldn’t expect her to assert her former gender.

Does a cross-dresser (is that a proper term?) want to be thought of as (say) a man dressed as a woman, or would (he? she?) prefer to be treated as a full-fledged woman in social discourse (intercourse, of course, presents different problems). Are these complex designations designed to protect men who hit men who convincingly dress as women?

I guess, put simply, where I’m puzzled is: why the fuss?

:eek: That should read “…men who hit on men…”

Errrr…in that case, why would you be filling out a change-of-gender form at all? :wally

Nature’s Call, don’t beat yourself up for being ignorant, you show sensitivity and that’s what counts. Knowledge of gender is still so new, most people haven’t even heard about the recent advances in knowledge, let alone get familiar with the complex ins and outs of it all.

The more progressive thinkers in gender theory have questioned the binary assumption, that there are only two possible slots. That as soon as you get out of one slot, you have to jump right into the other and stay there, none of this slippery in-between business.

About that: See Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein, which is a critique of the binary and a call to demolish it. Now, you have to know about Kate. She has her own perspective on this, which is that she isn’t a man but she can’t call herself a woman either. So she rejects the binary because it doesn’t allow any way for her to exist as her gender-undefined self. Kate wears women’s fashions, she looks to me like one beautiful babe, and if you saw her (with her wig on, that is; she’s bald), you would never guess she was trans. But she knows her own self the best, and if she says she can’t identify as a woman, I believe her, even though I don’t understand exactly what makes her say this.

Kate blames the gender binary for being the root of all oppression of elites over peons. She says it’s the cause of human inequality and should be abandoned. I don’t read her critique as saying it’s wrong for me to be all the way at the femme end of the spectrum (although femme-o-phobes have attacked me for that); she’s saying each individual should be free to identify with any combination of genders, or no gender at all, instead of leaving only two choices. If I’m reading her right, she advocates expanding the choices to infinity.

This is still a bit hmm, avant for most folks who still need education on Gender Identity 101. It’s already a stretch for the average American to accept that some people were assigned the wrong gender at birth and need to correct it.

My guess about the California DL328 with all its complexity is that it’s meant as a worksheet for gender therapy professionals to evaluate all the factors that allow them to boil it all down either F or M. If the therapist or doctor makes the call as either F or M for the purposes of the DMV, maybe this is just like the teachers said in grade school math class, “Show your work.”

[QUOTE=Nature’s Call]
Does a cross-dresser (is that a proper term?)


It seems to vary from individual to individual. The textbook description of CDs is that they’re male-identified, but just happen to like women’s clothes. In real life, though, I’ve been told some individual CDs can be located across a range of gender identities.

I don’t “get” CD myself. I keep looking for an explanation, but haven’t found a satisfactory one. Some full-fledged transwomen I’ve discussed it with believe that CDs are just in denial about their gender identity. Believe me, that happens. Oh, does it happen. The massive levels of denial that can build up around that is enough to turn the whole Egyptian desert green. So maybe some transgendered people never even come out to themselves, live out their whole lives in denial, but even so the urge to go female is much too strong to resist.

Many full-fledged transwomen relate that at first they thought they were just male crossdressers, but eventually they broke through to the consciousness of their real gender identity. This reminds me of why the ancient Greeks gave such importance to the adage “Know thyself” Γνωθι σεαυτον — it isn’t always a slam dunk to really know oneself. It’s highly precious knowledge that is often hard-won. We hide from ourselves a lot.

Sorry, I don’t understand this question.

Johanna: I’m not either, though I’ve been exposed to some Persian here and there. I lifted the name from a character in James Clavell’s “Whirlwind” book. :slight_smile:

I think MsRobyn’s got it right (that ‘demeanor’ is the gender the person lives as).

It may be that passability is an evaluation factor for safety or legal reasons - for instance if the doctor was not entirely sure the patient was ready for a change of name, or that they would want to immediately try living fulltime while nonpassable (which can result in negative social reaction), etc.? I really don’t know, that was simply my first guess at what “demeanor” meant.

Too complicated, I guess - that and I don’t know that anyone really authorizes them, or can prove that one clinic or another is a ‘real’ clinic for transpeople? I myself have never been to any sort of gender clinic or shrink and don’t plan to - nor do I really know that they have my best interests in mind.

I get the impression that the DL328 is just a convenience, a paper trail, so that you don’t have to go to court just quite yet (I believe the full ordeal costs upwards from $300) for name change, plus the correct gender of identification on some form of government ID before surgery. On my end, it’s been a world of convenience because I can’t afford the court fees and I won’t be able to afford SRS for quite some time - this is the only way I can get a “correct” ID.

It depends why the individual is cross-dressing. A cross-dresser is a person who dresses up in the clothing of the opposite sex. A transvestite is a person who dresses up in the clothing of the opposite sex to either identify as that gender or because of a sexual fetish. Some cross-dressers and Drag Queens prefer to be referred to as “she” which in feminine garb. I know some cross-dressers who engage in sexual relationships while cross-dressed and they prefer to be called “she” and treated like a girl, even though they identify as male. There are other cross-dresses who are completely male identified and don’t like being called “she” so your best bet is to always ask.

That’s it, I’m moving to Cali. I’ve heard that a university—was it UC Davis?—actually pays for the SRS of employees.

I typo’d, so I don’t blame you. What I was after is: to whom is the distinction more important, the individual or society?

I should spell it out:
Is it Case A: A bio-man cross-dresser seeking to be treated as a woman pure and simple and would otherwise opt for “F” on the driver’s licence. The DMV is squamish to grant the “F” without an asterisk, in the same way a man at a bar, attracted to the CD would want to know “Is that really a woman”?

Or is it Case B: The DMV wants to keep it simple: M/F, but this flies in the face of the individual who wants to be known as F with an asterisk.

Maybe the answer is to create a scale: -10 is male, 0 is androgynous, 10 is female. Gender: - 10 for me, -5 for David Bowie, 0 for Boy George, 3 (?) for Kate Bornstein. 10 for Bo Derek and Tula

You’re right, of course, that I wouldn’t fill out the form. I offered what I would have entered as a point of comparison between me and a former woman now post-op man. I’m curious what difference, if any, we two would have and to whom that difference is important. I get the sense that a TS man would rather it not be known he was formely a woman and just get on with his life. If so, a form like this is an annoynance foisted upon him by a squeamish DMV. If I’m wrong, though, the distinction between he and I is important to him - and that’s the understanding I’m after.

While I wasn’t clear (my fault) I don’t see my comments as deserving a wally.