Walking away from the Department of Motor Vehicles counter, I cringed at my new driver’s license photo and then noticed something that stopped me: the capital letter “M.” My eyes repeatedly traced the letter’s path—the shape of a plot outline—and I began to imagine my new life as a man, at least on paper. DOMA could no longer be used against me—denying me, my wife and child numerous rights. All I had to do was walk out the door.
Just walk. Out. The door.
Slide that new Connecticut license into my wallet and drive away.
Then, I’d simply wait until someone noticed. Perhaps a clerk might comment or look at me with wide eyes next time I bought a bottle of wine. So what. Or perhaps I’d receive a notice from the DMV? Unlikely. And if that happened, I could write back, claiming to be stunned and inconvenienced.
While I’m not a good liar, I’d give this lie everything I’ve got. Because my life might depend on it.
To be specific: this capital M meant health insurance or no health insurance. I’d just had a brush with cancer. I stared at the twin peaks of that fine letter which now offered me a long list of civil rights that I had once upon a time taken for granted when I was married to my child’s biological father. Now, I tried to imagine my own life as a man—at least on paper—one half of a federally recognized couple in a federally recognized marriage with the 1,138 rights that we’re still denied.
Free at last. Free at last.
A femme through and through, I wanted that M for the first time in my life. My new driver’s license looked cheap and fake compared to my former Massachusetts license, but I held it up in front of me as if it were a winning lottery ticket.
And I knew what I had to do. I turned toward the door.
Then, I turned toward the counter I’d just left. And I turned it in.
Chivas Sandage’s first book of poems, Hidden Drive (Antrim House, 2012), places Ada with Eve in Eden and explores same-sex marriage and divorce. Her essays and poems on gay marriage have appeared in Ms. Magazine,The Naugatuck River Review, Upstreet, Same-Sex Marriage: The Moral and Legal Debate (Prometheus Books, ‘04) and are forthcoming in Knockout Magazine. Her work has also appeared in Artful Dodge, Drunken Boat, Evergreen Review, Hampshire Life Magazine, The Hartford Courant, Manthology: Poems on the Male Experience (Univ. of Iowa Press, 2006) and Morning Song: Poems for New Parents (St. Martin’s Press, 2011). Sandage holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from Bennington College. She lives in Connecticut with her wife and daughter and blogs at csandage.com.
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