My name is Duane Sherrill. I’m your new editor and I’m a man. Well, I am now anyway. Up until a few years ago I was a woman.
Perhaps I should explain. As most gender issues go, my problem began as I was getting ready to go on a cruise a few years ago. Since it was my first trip overseas, well to the Bahamas anyway, I had to get a passport. For most people that wouldn’t be a problem. All you have to do is have a driver license and a birth certificate.
So, I take my identification to the clerk’s office and plop it on the courter. “I need a passport,” I tell them. “I’m going on a cruise.”
The lady behind the counter looks at my birth certificate and gives me a wry smile. “What you trying to pull, Roger,” she says, handing back my birth certificate.
“Actually I go by Duane,” I respond as Roger is my first name. “What’s the problem? Isn’t my paperwork in order?”
She openly chuckled. “Oh, you’re paperwork is in order, alright,” she quips. “I don’t know about the rest of you.”
She then points to the “gender” listing of my birth certificate. “It’s going to be hard to give a passport to Mr. Sherrill when your birth certificate says you are Mrs. Sherrill.”
My eyes got as big a saucers. Right there, on the same birth certificate I’ve had since my mom birthed me at Warren County General it says “FEMALE” as big as life.
“What the …” I mumble.
“It says you’re a woman … Duane,” the clerk grins. “You might want to get that fixed.”
I shake my head. How did no one notice that in all these years after all the little league and school registrations?
So, here I go trying to get it corrected. I didn’t want to get stuck in another country during my cruise due to a question of gender. However, as you would guess, any government-issued thing comes with a lot of red-tape so I ended up having to drive to Nashville.
“Hi, I’d like to get this fixed,” I say as I slip my birth certificate through the front window of the state office.
“What seems to be the problem, sir?” she asks.
“Well, first off, if you look at that certificate closely, I’m not a sir, I’m a ma’am,” I replied.
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” she comes back. “I didn’t mean to ….”
“No. You don’t understand,” I explain. “I am a sir but my certificate says I’m a ma’am. I want it changed to sir.”
She takes a long look at the document and then looks me up and down. “You do appear to be a male,” she say.
“Yes. Very much a male,” I puff out my chest.
“If you say so,” she rolls her eyes. “I’ll have to have you speak to an inspector.”
“An inspector!” I exclaim. “What are they going to inspect?”
My question went on deaf ears as the clerk walked to the back and returned with another woman.
“This way, Mr. Sherrill,” she directed me to a side room.
My mind was spinning. Was I going to have to prove I was a man? I mean, I knew I was and I wasn’t scared to, well, you know.
“There are some formalities we have to go through, Mr. Sherrill,” she announced as she shut the door behind us.
I took a deep breath. “Shouldn’t there be like a witness or something?” I wondered out loud, my ignorant statement getting a deep sigh from the agent. “I mean I don’t have a problem providing whatever proof that you …”
“Just sign the affidavit attesting that you’re a male,” she slapped the paper on the table, shaking her head. “We will take your word for it.”
So, I signed the document and gave them $30 and one week later my certificate came in the mail. It was at that point I figured out what the government gives you for $30. It was my old birth certificate. They had drawn a line through FEMALE and typed MALE above it. That means every time I show someone my birth certificate, it is now glaring that I was once a female.
Don’t believe me? Come to The News office this Thursday between 4 and 6 p.m. for my reception as your new editor and I’ll show you the certificate. Heck, come anyway and we will give you finger foods and something to drink.