Widgets Magazine


The Transitive Property: Drinking and Driving

So I buy a lot of alcohol (hooray for being in college!), and due to my rather youthful appearance, I always get carded. It’s gotten to the point that whenever I’ve got a six-pack of Coronas (I don’t care what you say, Coronas are magical) at the register I pull out my driver’s license without prompt. For many a cashier, the illusion of maleness is foiled — I get awkwardly looked at from top to bottom, and then awkwardly “ma’am”-ed until I’m on the verge of punching myself in the face. (Of course, that should deter me from buying alcohol, but for some strange reason it doesn’t.)

Last Friday, I finally mustered up the courage to go to the DMV and renew my driver’s license under my new name so I could finally buy alcohol with dignity. Getting my new driver’s license was also special because it would be the only official government document that would have preferred gender on it. For other documents, such as social security and passports, I would have to remain legally female until I’ve gone through sexual reassignment surgery (or SRS, for short), an option that if I decided on it, would be far off in the future. But for the driver’s license, things are a bit different — at least in the state of California, one can change one’s gender on a driver’s license with the signed consent of a psychologist or physician licensed in the United States. So, of course I would take the opportunity to finally be recognized as male.

After I got a haircut and put on a nice collared shirt for my new license picture, I arrived at the DMV around 9 a.m., hoping to skip the horrendously long lines — of course, with it being the DMV, things had to be as inconvenient as possible. Already there were hoards of people with the same mindset as I had. I was already grumpy because I had to wake up early. Not a good start to the morning.

I was quite nervous. Not to mention I also had a cold, I was stressing out about some dorm events I had to take care of, and I’ll admit the last week or two hadn’t exactly gone ideally for me. Let’s just say that I wasn’t in the mood to be discriminated against. I had heard of a transwoman who had been told at the DMV when she tried to file her name and gender change that she was going to hell — so I was strangely comforted by the fact that if anything bad went down I could just sue.

I had to wait for an hour — and time slows down in the DMV so one minute feels like an entire day. I was on the verge of punching myself in the face to relieve my boredom (I tend to almost punch myself in the face a lot, apparently). When it was my turn, I finally hurried over to the designated window. There, a rather bored looking woman looked at me with dull eyes. I couldn’t blame her — after all, this was the DMV, which was anything but the most exciting place to work.

“Hi,” I said. My voice croaked half due to the T, half because of the fact I hadn’t spoken in such a long time. “I need to change my name and gender on my driver’s license.”

“Do you have a new social security card?” she asked.

“Yeah.” I handed her the requested document. “I also have my court order.” I gave her that, too.

“Wow, you’re on top of everything,” she told me.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a while,” I said.

“I can tell.”

She told me she had never filed a gender change form before. But she was very sensitive about it. No questions, no weird looks. I felt respected. She walked us both through the process. I think it was a good change to her day, to finally see someone who looked happy in the DMV, which I think was why she was so nice to me.

Some stamped paperwork and a handsome new picture later. I was officially Cristopher Marc Soriano Bautista (and male!) on one more government document. And it was no big deal, either. I probably would have experienced the same thing if I were simply changing my address. Overall, it was a wonderfully uneventful experience.

Now I just have to wait three to eight weeks for my beautiful new driver’s license to arrive in the mail. In the meantime, I had to turn in my old driver’s license and it wasn’t until I got back at Stanford did I realize that without a valid photo ID I can’t buy alcohol anymore. How on earth am I going to manage now?

Cristopher is suffering from withdrawal now that he’s run out of Coronas. E-mail him at cmsb@stanford.edu.