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.
Darcy J. Corbitt-Hall She/Her/Hers
President and CEO
A Message from the Board of Trustees
In August 2017, our founder and current President and CEO, Darcy Jeda Corbitt, was denied a driver’s license that reflects her correct gender in the state where she lives and attends school. As a result, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a Federal lawsuit in the Middle District of Alabama on behalf of Ms. Corbitt and two other plaintiffs. Corbitt v. Taylor will open the door for thousands of transgender Alabamians to live safer, more affirming lives in their communities.
While the Foundation is not legally part of this fight, we stand behind Ms. Corbitt, her legal team, and her co-plaintiffs and applaud their courage in fighting for dignity and justice for transgender people in their state.
For the time being, other than providing general updates periodically to our supporters, the Foundation will be making no further comment on this lawsuit, either to the press or members of the public. All inquiries should be directed to the ACLU Media Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All donations received by the Foundation will be used to further our educational and charitable mission as defined by section 501c3 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. No part of our donations will be used to benefit Ms. Corbitt, her co-plantiffs, or her legal team. Individuals wishing to support our work can make a donation at www.darcycorbitt.org/donate. Those wishing to support the legal action being taken by Ms. Corbitt, her co-plaintiffs, and the ACLU may donate to the ACLU Foundation of Alabama at www.aclualabama.org.
Mary E. Belk She/Her/Hers
Vice Chairwoman, Board of Trustees
Who We Are
Darcy Jeda Corbitt Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity promoting the health and global wellbeing of transgender, queer, and gender nonconforming individuals. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by US Federal Tax Code.
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