Tennessee resident Andrea Jones effectively demonstrated this week how poorly transgender people can be treated. According to the federal government, Jones is a woman, but Tennessee’s Department of Safety says she doesn’t have enough proof to have her state gender documentation changed. The state claims she only had partial sexual reassignment surgery and state law requires a “full sex change” to recognize a change of gender. When her paperwork was rejected, she went outside and removed her shirt in protest, for which she was arrested. The police report read:
Mr. Jones continued to yell that he had the right to show his breasts in public and wanted to be recognized as a female.
If the state recognizes her as a male, then it was not against the law for her to remove her shirt in public, as only the showing of “the female breast” counts as public indecency under Tennessee law. The state is essentially punishing her both for being female enough and for not being female enough, whereas the federal government already recognizes her as female.
Jones’ story demonstrates how unrealistic it is to set standards of “proof” for people to identify their gender transition. If trans people were celebrated for their authenticity, they would not face the undue hardship of being punished just for being who they are.
WATE has a video report of Jones’ struggle.