"I am taking this stand not just to respect my own dignity and worth but to respect the dignity and worth of every transgender person in Alabama."
Darcy Jeda Corbitt
Information about Corbitt v. Taylor
I have lived the majority of my life living an identity that was assigned to me by society and enforced by social violence and fear. As a result, the majority of my life has been dominated by intense feelings of unworthiness, guilt, shame, and the unshakable sense that I was unlovable. All of this changed in 2011, in Montgomery, AL, when I took the first step toward becoming the person I have always known myself to be. For the last seven years, I have taken every day as a gracious second-chance at having a life that was my own and an identity that was mine to explore, to critique, and to define. These last seven years have been the best of my entire life, and every day I grow to love myself more than I ever thought was possible, to feel a worth beyond measure.
On August 16, 2017, my life changed in a way I would never have expected. In a period of half-an-hour I was subjected to the most blatant cruelty another human being had ever inflicted on me. It happened while I was at the Lee County Driver’s License office in Opelika attempting to get a driver’s license. When I arrived in the office, I was treated with the utmost respect and courtesy. I had just moved back to Alabama to complete my doctorate in human development and family studies, and the clerk was so friendly I told her about how I had grown up in Beauregard, had moved to North Dakota for school, and had returned, by a strange coincidence, when my doctoral advisor had been offered at Faculty position at Auburn University. Her friendliness died down when she pulled up my previous Alabama driver’s license record. On that record, my gender is listed as male. That is because I was assigned male at birth, though I have always strongly identified as a woman. Part of the last seven years of my journey has been to reclaim my identity as a woman and to live a life that is both open and affirming of my gender identity. While I have never made my every-day reality as a transgender woman a secret, it is part of me that is intensely intimate, and I choose to whom I reveal that information, as well as how much I choose to share.
This clerk chose to publicly humiliate me by loudly discussing my gender identity, the most intimate part of my life, in a room full of strangers. She insulted me by saying she “never would have known I was transgender until she saw my driver’s license.” She disrespected me by referring to me as “he” and “him.” She dehumanized me when she started calling me “it.” Even her apparent moment of self-awareness when she said to me: “I should be saying ‘she,’ right?” was more a microagressive jab than it was true awareness of how abjectly cruel she was being. In that moment, and in many moments since, I have felt twinges of that old wound of unworthiness, of ugliness, of never being good enough to love. In the end, I was informed that, in spite of having successfully completed the requirements of changing my gender on my United States Passport, Social Security Card, and North Dakota Driver’s License, that I was not eligible to change my gender marker on my Alabama Driver’s License unless I had or could prove I had “the surgery.”
I have not spent the last seven years of my life undoing 21 years other people defining my identity to just sit back and allow the State of Alabama to dictate to me who I am and what I have to do to prove it to them. I have not endured ridicule from friends, family, and complete strangers and death threats to simply ignore a civil servant whose wages my taxes pay belittling me and mocking me to my face and in front of my neighbors. It is in times like these that I have had to consider what the next steps of my journey will be. And today, on February 6, 2018, in Montgomery, AL, I am taking the next big step of my journey. As a Christian, and as an Episcopalian, I have pledged to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity and worth of every human being.” Policy 63 is unjust, has brought me no peace, and does not treat my identity with dignity. Nor does it make me feel like I am worthy. And I am not alone in feeling this way. Because this policy goes against my personal ethical and Christian beliefs I must take a stand against it. I am taking what will most likely be a very unpopular stand in spite of the great personal sacrifice it will mean for me and for those who love me. I am taking this stand because it is the right thing to do. I am taking this stand not just to respect my own dignity and worth but to respect the dignity and worth of every transgender person in Alabama. Because the state of Alabama does not have the right to define our identities or our worth.
How can I contact Darcy about Corbitt v. Taylor? Questions should be directed to the ACLU at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I learn more about transgender people and gender identity? Darcy's nonprofit operates a website that provides free web-based support and education to transgender people, their loved ones, and the people in their community. Visit MyTransitionPartner.com to get started.
How can I help support Darcy during this lawsuit? Because of the volume of incoming messages and inquiries, Darcy has requested that individuals wishing to show support for her during this time to make a donation to the ACLU of Alabama or to her 501c3 charitable foundation so both can continue to do what they do best.