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Take a Break Driver 8

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Last week, I spent an afternoon in the local DMV office getting my driver license renewed. I had to sit and wait for about ninety minutes in a room full of people who reminded me how much I dread the prospect of universal health care. Then, I was finally assisted by a government agent who reminded me how much I dread the prospect of universal health care.

Most of the people at the North Carolina DMV aren’t very pleasant. That’s why I’ve decided to move to Washington State where the people who update your driver license are much more accommodating and friendly.

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In Washington, they allow you to change the address on your driver license for just $10. And they give you ten days to do it. That’s a real bargain for college students who are constantly moving from one place to the next.

Washington also allows you to change the name on your driver license for just $10. That’s great for those women who are getting married or guys like me who are having a midlife crisis and considering reforming the bands we used to play with in college. When I do that I’m going to change my name to “The artist formerly known as Mike.”

But, of all the great things they do for the Washington driver, none compares to the new “change your gender designation” option. And you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home to do it. You can sit back with a Starbuck’s latte and mail a written request to:

Assistant Director for Driver Policy and Programs
Department of Licensing
PO Box 9030
Olympia, WA 98507-9030

The request must include the usual information such as the name, address, and gender designation shown on one’s current driver license. It must also include the name, address, and gender designation to be shown on one’s new driver license.

Aside from those basics, all one really needs is a letter on official letterhead from a licensed medical, osteopathic physician or psychologist stating that the appropriate medical treatment has been initiated. By that, Washington State means the surgery needed to change one’s sex rather than the psychiatric treatment needed to “cure” one’s compulsion to engage in medically supervised genital mutilation.

I think these are really good and progressive changes of which the State of Washington can be proud. But more should be done.

First of all, I think Washington should amend its laws to accommodate those who regularly change their gender designation. For example, a University of Texas journalism professor once stated that he/she preferred to be a man on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and a woman on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. (Note: I am not certain what he/she did on Sunday although I would recommend a “day of rest” from any gender designation).

We need to accommodate these people by allowing them to keep two driver licenses to use on alternating days. Furthermore, there should be no requirement that they have documentation that “appropriate medical treatment has been initiated.” The term “appropriate” is entirely too judgmental. Plus, we do not yet have a national health care plan that assists those who are afflicted both by poverty and gender identity confusion.

I once learned - at a transgendered law seminar – that gender is between the ears not between the legs. Our government policies should embrace that notion fully.

When Washington State does finish with its accommodation of those experiencing gender identity confusion it should turn “appropriate” attention to those who experience racial identity confusion.

Even Barack Obama has reported harassment at the hands of the police – most notably when he was a student at Harvard. His experience underscores the importance of allowing bi-racial men to have a driver license that says “white” in order to avoid a police beating – whether in the Harvard yard or elsewhere.

But we should also let bi-racial people have a driver license that says “black” – or whatever their other race happens to be. They can use this other license on occasions where they need to benefit from affirmative action or otherwise use their marginal minority status as a crutch.

The important thing is that we begin to see public offices in a new way. They are not only there to perform the basic functions of government. They exist to engage in social engineering at all levels. And they exist to alleviate discomfort - even when it is self-inflicted.

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