I received my new pilot’s license a couple of days ago, and it correctly lists my ratings and my sex as “F.” I also just received the following email from Dr. Salazar, as well, saying that my medical certificate nightmare is over:

Ms. Bailey – Oklahoma City finished the administrative processing and we picked up your case today. I have directed my staff to issue a medical certificate under special issuance. All that implies is we would follow your case for at least a year primarily to ensure no post-op problems have occurred.

The context for this entire episode can be found at the following posts:

New Aviation Medical visit
Gender Issues “Disqualifying Conditions” for FAA
FAA Bureaucracy and Web Misinformation
Name and Sex at the FAA
Just Following Regs

While I’m happy that I’m thought of as female and am legal to fly again by the FAA, I am nevertheless baffled about why the FAA needs this level of scrutiny about my genitalia (at least the passport office has some sort of need to identify its citizens, even though I think their fetish about what’s between its citizens’ legs is also uncalled-for).

In the case of the FAA, there are two distinct issues. First is their refusal to change the gender marker (the “M” or the “F”) until the pilot produces a surgeon’s letter. The FAA regulations never mention sex, nor does the Airman’s Information Manual (AIM) — it’s telling that the bureau’s “rules” about the surgeon’s letter come from an unpublished circular that field inspectors are supposed to follow. It’s just like my passport experience, where there are no written rules about changing gender markers, and thus it just falls to lore or to secret documents.

The second issue is this vexing assertion that gender identity disorder, or “gender issues” in general, are disqualifying conditions for holding a valid aviator’s medical exam. “Gender Issues” is so broad as to include drag queens, occasional crossdressers, and deeply closeted transsexuals, among others, and if these conditions are disqualifying, then thousands or tens of thousands of pilots are technically violating the law when they do not disclose these feelings to their AME (Aviation Medical Examiner), and I simply don’t think that’s right.

First, I don’t see why any gender issues should be disqualifying. It is certainly true that GID is characterized by depression, especially as the transgender person grapples with their fate and struggles to accept him/herself. But depression is already a condition that must be reported in an aviation medical exam, and I would think that this type of disclosure would be sufficient (assuming you think it’s any business of the FAA’s if a pilot is depressed). Whether a woman feels like a man and is thinking of changing sex automatically disqualifies him from flying is another matter (and an irrelevant matter, I’d argue).

In any case, I have my new medical certificate, albeit one that requires I be monitored for a year, just in case I flip out. Dr. Salazar’s note mentions monitoring surgery, but I’m unaware of any other surgeries that require a year’s worth of monitoring — I would imagine that this is a veiled language to allow the FAA to monitor trannies in the sky.