I’ve been pulled over a lot in the last month or so, and by “a lot,” I mean somewhere between five and eight times. We’ve officially reached a point, however, where it simply isn’t my fault; I’m trapped in the wheels of inefficient, moronic bureaucracy, and there’s no quick or easy way out.
During the month of August that I’ve alluded to, my driver’s license expired, and I couldn’t do anything to prevent it because I didn’t have the money. When I did have the money, I had all my paperwork–except my birth certificate, which has to be a certified copy because my license was expired. So I contacted my family in Mississippi and had them send it to me. Although mailed out in early October, and postmarked the same, it was early December before it actually arrived. When it did arrive, what I found were useless photocopies, so at the first available opportunity I called the number in Jackson and ordered one.
When I got pulled over again two days ago, it inspired me to look at the order number and see what the holdup is, and I learned that Mississippi requires additional identity verification and that I must send them a photocopy of a valid, non-expired governmental ID. There were no other identity verification options.
I need my birth certificate to get an ID, and I need my ID to get my birth certificate.
“Ain’t life grand?” remarked my grandmother when I called her, to give my debit card information and let my father order it for me, but it isn’t “life” that created this quagmire. It’s the state.
Of course, the reason I am continually targeted by the local thugs isn’t my expired driver’s license. It’s my expired licence plate, which I can fix much more easily–by sending someone in Mississippi the money, having them go to the courthouse and paying my “privilege to travel” extortion fee, and mailing me my magical “I’m a good tax slave” sticker. The problem with this is that there aren’t many people in Mississippi I can trust with this, and my grandmother is in her 80s. My sister is the only viable option, and she tends to be pretty busy, but that’s exactly what I’m doing.
A different and totally unrelated issue is that my driver’s side brake light is extremely uncooperative and just… stops working… at random times. If I didn’t catch it, then I’m effectively driving around with a brake light out. If I do catch it, then it’s easily fixed my tapping the fixture. I don’t know why it’s doing this, but it is what it is.
A week or so ago, I expected to be arrested. I’d been pulled over on Main Street here in Keene for the brake light being out, at which point they found my license expired and my registration expired. In Mississippi I’d have gone straight to jail, my car towed away. However, they didn’t even issue a citation, or technically a warning. Instead, the officer essentially asked me, rather politely, to take care of the brake light, and sent me on my way. Very curious.
Except it isn’t. I’ve been in Keene less than a year, but I’ve already made a few waves, primarily by running for sheriff, which earned me a fair bit of media coverage, most importantly in a feature article for New Hampshire’s largest newspaper. During the campaign I also went on the show of none other than Chris Cantwell to discuss the campaign and trans matters, so they were a fun few months (for those curious, I received 2.4% of the vote, which is phenomenal considering the absolute lack of actual campaigning).
I’m also associated with the Liberty Radio Network and less so associated with Free Keene, a group notorious in this small town for creating problems for the state. So if the local thugs don’t recognize me (which is, to be frank, impossible), the LRN bumper stickers on my car will give it away. I’m essentially a complicated set of headaches that they don’t want to deal with, nevermind being trans.
It’s also not like I’m intentionally flouting the authority of the state. Quite the opposite: I’m doing my best to accommodate its contradictory and asinine demands. It’s literally not my fault the original birth certificate took an incredible two months to arrive from my family, or that the state of Mississippi in its never-ending brilliance has decided one must have a valid ID to get the birth certificate needed to acquire a valid ID.
I don’t mean to insult the Keene PD here. In fact, I find them to be the most benevolent of all law enforcement agents with which I’ve ever dealt. During the month of August, I was given a ride on two occasions by a Keene police officer, and they’ve never been anything but polite and friendly toward me, even when, by all legality, they probably should have arrested me.
Most importantly, I don’t feel it when the Keene police are about to pull me over, and this is what the enormous prelude above was getting to. I’m willing to bet we all know the feeling to which I’m referring: it’s a sensation that can only fairly be described as “being hunted.”
I’ve been harassed by thugs throughout my peaceful existence enough to bet that everyone knows that sense of being a prey. Is it that they drive so aggressively when they’re prowling for victims? I am not sure.
Most recently I was accosted by a state trooper, and I immediately knew, as he pulled out behind me, that he would pull me over. This did not change over the next mile, as he continued to follow me, and I was not in the least surprised when those blue lights began flashing just outside of where I live. On this occasion, I was being pulled over not for having an expired licence plate, but for having an out of state license plate. Through our brief conversation, I was rudely informed that I can’t be in New Hampshire while having Mississippi tags.
This, of course, is extremely stupid, and quite obviously false. There are three states within a fifteen minute drive of Keene, and there are people from all over New England in Keene. There are reasons beyond the cost of registration (in New Hampshire it’s about nine times more expensive than in Mississippi) to keep my registration where it is, but they’re not worth getting into here, and it’s even worth the additional cost to sign the car over to my business located in Mississippi.
But I think it says a lot about the current state of affairs that law enforcement agents generate the same primal sense of dread and fear that are triggered when one is being followed by a rapist through a back alley, or when our ancestors were stalked by predators thousands of years ago. Of course, they are predators, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise–just something we consider.