A new law has been proposed by the US State Department. It’s called the “Standardization of Genders” Act (H.R. 2576), and it would mandate that the sex on a passport be either male or female. The bill would change current law, which says that a passport can have either a male or female sex. It would also require that the sex on one’s birth certificate match the sex on the passport.
For her to be treated fairly, all countries should follow the same rules when it comes to passports. That’s the simple message in the Guardian article, What counts as gender? A passport would help transgender woman.
I was born in Iran, but became an American citizen at birth. I have lived in several countries, including the US, Canada, France, and Germany, where I have held different passports. My wife, too, is an American citizen, but her passport is the universal one, so both of us have the same name, the same signature, the same photo (and possibly the same fingerprints). It would be very easy to assume that our passports are not “different”, but that they are the same, without realizing that they are actually two different documents.
Why Doesn’t One Woman’s Name Appear on Her Passport Due to ‘Standardization’?
on August 30, 2021 by Gary Leff
In his outstanding book Seeing Like A State, published in 1998, James Scott examines how government social programs attempt to standardize weights, measures, and statistics while ignoring complicated interdependencies, prioritizing formal, epistemic knowledge over local, practical knowledge.
It was difficult to monitor, tax, and control when the government had little information about its people, their whereabouts, or their riches. Permanent last names, land surveys and population measurements, and standard weights all evolved through time. We have transportation networks that are well-planned. Local systems and consumers were mapped into more conventional grids, allowing for centralized data collection. Nature and society are ordered by state institutions.
That, it seems, is why one woman’s name cannot be written on a passport.
Michelle Nahanee is Ta7talya Nahanee’s name on her Canadian passport. Her given name contains the number 7, which she received from her “Indigenous relatives in the Squamish Nation in North Vancouver.” Her name is pronounced Ta-ta-li-ya, and it’s spoken as a “glottal pause, comparable to the stop in the midst of the phrase oh-oh!”
Despite the fact that Canada’s government has created a new procedure for Indigenous Peoples to “reclaim their Indigenous names on passports,” her application was turned down.
She was dismayed to discover that government systems can only print in the Roman alphabet with French accents, which means that names with numbers, as well as Indigenous signs and symbols, would be rejected.
“It’s simply another one of those announcements when the administration pats itself on the back for acts of reconciliation but fails to follow through with those actions,” Nahanee added.
According to Canada’s immigration office, its papers don’t only accept the Roman alphabet; they also allow “certain French accents,” as well as apostrophes, hyphens, and periods. They just do not believe in numbers. They accuse the International Civil Aviation Organization of the United Nations. By the way, prior to the upgrade, airline systems did not allow genders other than male and female.
Standardization is required by governments. Standardization makes things simpler for the user, but it takes something away from the individual who is standardized. Even when the government makes an attempt to be inclusive, this is true.
To regain their names on passports, citizenship certificates, and Indian status cards, all applicants must first undergo a time-consuming provincial name-change procedure.
“What makes it much more complicated is that many people were born in another province and may have or need documents from that province for the application,” Tao said.
“Many provinces did not even publish the procedure for changing Indigenous names, so we had to contact them to find out how to accomplish it.”
Each province also has its own set of regulations for who is eligible for fee exemptions, while the federal government provides it for free. In British Columbia, for example, candidates must additionally provide an affidavit proving their connection to Indian residential schools or the “Sixties scoop.”
Residential school survivors and their families in Ontario have until January 2022 to regain their Indigenous names for free. If it is part of your or the child’s traditional culture, they may convert to a single name if there is evidence to support the naming practice.
“We have received less than five requests for new passports issued under recovered Indigenous names,” according to the ministry. On the one hand, the lack of requests may explain why the bureaucracy is unresponsive to calls to make the procedure simpler. On the other side, the slow response of the bureaucracy may explain why so few requests have been fulfilled.
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