On the absurdity scale, with one being “slightly askew” and ten being “no really, tell me, where are the hidden cameras?” a recent happening in my life hit about an eight. A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from the human resources department at my job, informing me that there was a “mismatch” on the information they had and what Social Security was telling them. Or at least what a Social Security computer was telling them. Namely, that according to Social Security, I was a man. Oh really. News to me. Very big news to me. How come I never noticed this about myself before? The other thing was, oh yes, I needed to provide documentation that Social Security no longer believed I was a man or my employer would be forced to remove me from my job. Apparently Homeland Security has a vested interest in being absolutely sure that women of a certain age really are women.
Once I managed to get my eyes unstuck from where they had firmly lodged when I had rolled them, I called the local Social Security office listed on their website, since a perusal of said website did not reveal any online way to get a sex change. The faceless, and ultimately brainless woman I talked to (of course, how do I know if she was really a woman or not) asked me all kinds of questions about previous addresses. I was not prepared for this walk down Memory Lane, this stroll along Recollection Boulevard. I mean, who really remembers all the addresses of the places they’ve lived? Well, maybe some do, but I don’t. I managed to remember enough to convince her I was really myself and she clicked keys on a computer for a while. Eventually she told me that the “paperwork was started” and that the situation should be resolved within thirty days. I wanted to laugh about any government process taking only thirty days, but I figured I’d better keep my levity to myself. I should have known better. Somewhere deep in my subconscious I probably did.
Time passed, and one lovely fall day I received another e-mail reminding me that I had “x” number of days to resolve the issue regarding my Social Security mismatch. In other words, to prove I was not a man. It was kind of like a non-musical, unfunny, non-dancing Victor, Victoria experience. Sort of. Maybe not.
I decided to call the people at Social Security again “just to be sure” all was going as planned. Notice I did not say “faceless insectoid drones”, but I thought about it. This time I talked to a man (or was he?). I explained my issue and what I had been told before and I could hear him looking at me like I suddenly grew a second head. If you know what I mean by that completely incorrect sentence. I was informed that things could not be changed over the phone, but that I needed to present evidence in person at the Social Security office. Present evidence? Like what, I wondered, yank open my blouse? Ohhhhhhh… bring my birth certificate. Ok. Then the faceless insectoid drone asked me “Were you born a man?” I wonder if he heard me look at him like he’d suddenly grown a second head. A second insectoid drone head with a huge proboscis and waggling pincers. I shrieked “No!!!” This whole thing was just too bizarre. Then he asked me “Will it say that on your birth certificate?” I was so astonished at the question. “Yes!!!!” I shrieked again, finding all of this a little horrifying.
I imagined the conversation continuing: “Did you ever wish you were a man?” asks Insectoid Man.
I thought about this. Technically yes…like when on a long trip and the sign says “1000 miles until the next Rest Area”, or when the monthly Festival of Femininity makes its visit, but I get over it.
“No.” I say firmly.
I was brought back to the unreality of the reality by Insectoid Man telling me that he did not know of any documentation that would be available after I presented my birth certificate, that maybe the other Insectoid Drones would know when I visited the hive. I mean office. Later that day I continued my part in this circus act by jumping through the hoops necessary to obtain a copy of my birth certificate. Then I waited. It only took about a week to arrive, and so I girded my loins and prepared to meet the Insectoid Drones in the hive. Office. Office. Office. Surprisingly, the Insectoid Drone was a very pleasant person who clicked merrily away at the keys on his computer with his waggling pincers. He examined my birth certificate, and thankfully that was indeed all the proof I needed to provide. In a short time I was finished. I asked about “documentation” and this time I could actually see the reaction to the second head that had to be growing out of my neck. He told me that there really wasn’t anything for “documentation”, and that the folks who needed to see the documentation could look at it “on the computer” because that is how they would have been informed of the Gender Question in the first place. He gave me a waggle of his pincers in farewell and I was on my way, a new (albeit the same) woman.
At least until some other Insectoid Drone decides otherwise.