In the military, you can earn officer’s status by being commissioned, after a course of training, like an academy.
There are other classes of officers, though. For example, war correspondents were given the assimilated rank of captain, so they could get the benefits of officers.
Warrant officers are officers of convenience. They have a required technical skill — piloting helicopters is the classic example — so they are given the rank of officer without actually being in the line of command. They are useful and valued, so they are granted the courtesies granted to officers — like going to the officer’s club — but aren’t really genuine officers.
Is this the best that transwomen can expect, being made warrant women, held on the books as women, but not really having standing in the chain as women?
Will we be allowed to wear the uniform, get the courtesies and even a salute now and then, but no one is going to respect our orders, knowing we aren’t real women? Do we get indulged in our expression, but only respected as technicians with specific skills?
How do we have standing in the world if we are always seen as guests rather than compatriots, others who can be turned out at any time if our choices disquiet any of the group? Learning silence to placate those who see themselves as our hosts means that we are always trying not to be denied the assimilated rank we have struggled so hard to earn,
Of course, not everyone is going to respect our warrant cards. Some will still see us as frauds, cracked in the head and asserting utter nonsense, if not actual sickness and sin, violating the laws and traditions of God and civilization.
But at least the world is much easier for transpeople than when I was a kid, where there were very, very few who would even be gracious and understanding, let alone say they support trans expression.
It can be argued that being a warrant woman should be accepted as a great gift from society, because it gives you a standing that allows you to make connections with others, who, may be able to engage you as an individual who makes feminine choices. After all, transgender is about being a unique individual, not a group member, right?
And maybe, warrant women are the ones who help make space for transkids who might be able to achieve a more full welcome to womanhood.
Being a warrant woman, though, is always uncomfortable. It is not the stuff of dreams, rather it is the choice of pragmatism. It is a provisional designation, leaving us on our uppers.
It means we have to always be circumspect, ready to have our standing ripped away from us for infractions in crossing boundaries in people’s heads that are neither clear nor rational. We need to remember that the defence of gender act can be invoked without warning or cause, because our womanhood is only granted by warrant, seen by many as a courtesy designation.
Is being a warrant woman enough? That’s the challenge every transwoman has to ask themselves. While it is a very charged option, well, the other options can be even more final.