Monika: Today it is my pleasure and honour to interview Katie Sprinkle, an American lawyer, former public defender, the founder of Law Office of Katie Sprinkle. Hello Katie!
There are a few Judges in Texas who are willing to give us the Court Orders we need to change our names and correct our gender markers, but they are few and far between. I want to help people obtain the name changes and gender marker corrections and be the focal point for information regarding these matters. Job discrimination is another area where the law is failing the transgender community.
There has been some movement in this area with the Macy vs B.A.T.F. which held that transgender discrimination is sex discrimination so even without specific laws enacted to protect us from job discrimination, we can still fight it on the basis of sex discrimination. We still have a very long way to go in this area as well, but there have been positive steps.
|Speaking at a G.E.A.R. Mixer on the Legal Aspect of Name and Gender Changes.|
Monika: You decided to offer pro bono services, holding a free monthly legal clinic for Resource Center’s transgender GEAR program in Dallas. What are the most frequent cases that you deal with there?
I finally came out to my family which was the scariest thing that I had ever done. I have been extremely fortunate that I have been accepted by my family and friends. I have had a few acquaintances who had turned away, but the people who truly mean something to me have stayed with me thru my transition.
Transwomen are no different from cis-women, we take our que from other woman in what to wear or not wear and learning these ques can be extremely helpful. Learn to walk, sit, stand and have more feminine mannerisms. I know some very beautiful tranwomen who walk, sit, or stand like a truck driver. There is a belief that cis-gender women do not have to do this, but that is not true. Cis-women learned all of this as teenagers so part of this game of “passing" is just learning the rules of fashion, and presentation that cis-women learned as teenagers. These are things that we can change which will help us “pass” and give us greater confidence when we present to the world.
Second, I think that focusing on passing is a fools errand. In the end, it boils down to going out and living your life on your terms or hiding in the shadows because you live in fear. I over came my fear of not passing simply by going out and presenting to the world as me. I had to learn some very hard lessons which I stated above, but as I mastered those my confidence grew.
As my confidence grew, I developed the attitude that I just didn’t care what happens if someone read me. I was always safe and aware of my surroundings as any women should be, but if someone figured out that I was transgender, I didn’t care. I had an incident in 2012 at a Department Store in Austin where I went to purchase some clothing and the clerk noticed the male name on my credit card which prompted her to ask for my ID. I showed her my male ID which surprised her so she called a manager.
With the manager on the phone and a line forming behind me, she very loudly spoke into the phone, “It is dressed as a women, but its ID says male”. If this incident had happened twenty years earlier, I would have been so mortified that I would have gone home and hidden for who knows how long. However, by this stage in my life, I had learned to roll with the punches. I asked to speak with a manager, I logged a very stern complained which ultimately made its way to the district manager who called and personally apologized to me. What got me thru this incident as well as other incidents was my experience of presenting as me.
Push your boundaries. I dressed at home, then would go check the mail while dressed before building up to doing errands. I was careful not to be noticed to much, but gained valuable experience. Eventually, it helped me find a support group where we often went in a group to a local restaurant after the meeting then maybe to a gay club to dance or take in a drag show. Its a journey that we take and with each step we get closer to where we want to be. Don’t let fear dictate your life. Eventually, you will overcome that fear and present the real you to the world and you will lay the beast of “passing” to rest.
I think the characters of Will and Jack showed two different types of people who just happened to be gay. I think that pop culture will help the transgender community in the same way. We are not there yet, but I think that we are a short distance from seeing that. I think that seeing more transgender actresses play transgender characters will be helpful. I think there are a number of transgender actresses who could have performed the Jared Leto role.
I would also like to see the media, particular interview shows focus on better role models. The main people that we see on these shows are models and actresses, but we are doctors, lawyers, engineers, and parents. People need to know that we are no different from them which will help us eliminate the ignorance. We will still face tremendous bigotry, but with more and more allies, we will overcome the bigots like so many before us.
Monika: Are you active in politics? Do you participate in any lobbying campaigns? Do you think transgender women can make a difference in politics?
My belief is that if they are comfortable enough to call that encountering a transgender person will not be an issue. We are very blessed in Dallas County right now, because the bulk of the Judiciary at the county level want to be fair to the transgender community. If I can help that, then I will do so.
I love Coral and Rose colors. I don’t wear skirts as often as I thought I might, but I think that finding a balance in your wardrobe is important. My wardrobe fits my needs to being comfortable while expressing my femininity. Of course, I am not afraid to sport shorts, t-shirt and flip flops.
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Find social events that you can attend to get to know other transgender people. So many people rely on just socializing online, but that will only get you so far. They will need to get out of the house. Again, do so with caution and take slow steps, but eventually you will find your confidence.