free to be without i.d.

I have been trying to get a passport. (I am a permanent resident of Australia, not a citizen, and am not eligible for an Australian passport. The passport I am applying for is Canadian.)

I have also gone to see a doctor and a dentist. In spite of my drinking over the years, it looks like my overall health is good. My liver is in good condition. My blood pressure is good (115/76). My iron was at the low end of normal, but everything else (that could be tested through bloodwork) was good, and the results of my Pap smear were normal. Dentist: I still haven't had a cavity at 49 years of age, and regarding the periodontal work, the situation is controlled well enough that I only have to see a regular dentist. No bone loss since 2008, at which time things were only beginning to show up.

I don't know if I will be issued a passport. I am currently waiting to hear. It has been more than 4 weeks since the forms were sent out. I did manage to go through with getting a photo for the passport. The problem is that the passport had lapsed in 2009, and since then I have lived like a recluse. Some of the ID that is required to prove identity for a passport must include photo ID - a driver's license, or a state proof of age card. I don't have the former, and the latter requires photo ID in order to get it, or a statutory declaration from someone who knows me, but on top of the passport fee ($260, plus another $10 or more in postage for registered post, plus $50 for the photo), it doesn't seem to make sense to pay another $50 for an ID card that will have no other use except to help me get a passport, and which doesn't actually seem to prove all that much anyway.

If you don't like it, leave. People are always saying this when someone criticizes their country of origin or a country they are living in. However, it's not really all that easy to leave a country, unless perhaps you are skilled or knowledgeable when it comes to how to fake ID or live off the grid.

An Australian driver's license is $71.20 for one year, and $159.40 for 5 years. Replacements if lost, stolen or damaged are $68.25, and if you have an alcohol issue history, it will be $281.90. But first you are required to pay fees for a learner's license, which could be about $200, when you factor in various things, including test fees. (I've never had a driver's license.)

For a driver's license, you need to have a driver's license that expired less than 2 years ago, or a proof of age card, but it all gets pretty difficult if you factor in life situations which result in someone living in an isolated way for an extended period. When someone wants to rejoin society, there are many hurdles, financial and otherwise. For most people, it's something they take for granted. Their lives are arranged such that renewals are just a normal part of life, and it's not a major problem to grudgingly pay the fees and jump through the hoops.

I am mentioning all of this because when it comes to anyone who has not been functioning in society for some time, the difficulties involved with qualifying to re-enter society can seem insurmountable. People with 'mental illness', self-esteem issues, or severe insecurities could conceivably abandon the process - and their lives might be set up such that there is no one to encourage them to proceed, or who even recognizes that there is a problem. In addition, those who like to do it all themselves might have trouble asking others to help with parts of the process. Internal identity plays a role: what does a person feel he or she deserves? Maybe if a person finds it difficult to fit in, they believe they will always be an outsider and as a result they accept their limited choices. Does a person think if it's too much hassle it isn't worth it? What if some of the practical concerns, eg, fees, are simply beyond a person's means? Or a person is frightened by all the expense and finds it difficult to justify?

It's easy to see how a person could just give up. How easy is it to rent a place to live or travel without ID? Maybe in some ways it makes life more simple. You make your choices within certain boundaries. Besides.. those old romantic notions about travel just don't apply anymore. It's difficult even within one's own country of origin, let alone travelling overseas, to engage with any environment or culture in a truly spontaneous way. Just to enter a country, in addition to all you have to go through to get ID, you often have to prove how much money you have such that you aren't just showing up somewhere hoping to sponataneously explore and work your way through a country or continent. Your life must already be organized and in order, up to a certain standard, before you are allowed to 'find yourself'.

Acquiring a passport photo has always been difficult for me and is the major reason I just don't want to get a passport. When I see these 'official' photographic versions of me, I think 'what's the point in living? I might as well be dead, and nothing a passport enables me to do will be worth doing if this is really 'who I am' or how I appear to others.'

But it's also difficult imposing on others to vouch for my identity. It's not like I will do anything with the passport that is going to result in harm to anyone who does vouch for me, but it is still difficult to impose on anyone to be hassled or asked questions about me, especially considering how complicated my situation is, and that often those I impose on are those who have had very little contact with me in years. Why should they have to do anything for me if I have shut them out? When it comes to anyone who knows about my life, it's complicated, and it seems unfair to put them in the position of having to figure out how to word things. However, I do see that some of my attitudes in this area reflect the internalized stigma I have mentioned in various articles here on my site.

I admit that rationally I see that if my life continues on it will make things easier if I have a passport, and that it also increases my chances for independence, but at the same time, I kind of like the idea of finally being able to say decisively 'fuck it, I will never go back. I don't want to support a system that I think of as sick and unfair.'

I have been without ID in the past. In my 20s until I was about 26 I couldn't get a bank account because I didn't have ID. I used to have to use those cheque cashing places that take a percentage, until I dated someone who worked in a bank and who took a risk in opening up a bank account for me. I didn't really question my situation or think of it as unfair - it was just the way things were, and something I had brought upon myself. I was free to re-apply for ID, and it was no one's fault but my own that it felt overwhelmingly difficult for me. I didn't draw attention to it partly because I wasn't aware of my internal beliefs about it, and partly because I was ashamed of myself and my circumstances.

I am not skilled enough and I don't have enough connections to be able to live truly off the grid without ID. Many people are without ID. What they are able to do in life, where they are able to live and go, will be restricted by not having the same ID as members of mainstream society. Is the application process for ID discriminatory? How big are the 'threats' of 'terrorism' or 'too-permissive' immigration? How many people's quality of life is affected by not having ID or the means to acquire it?

When my application has been accepted or declined, I will post an update here. [21.05.15]

[30.06.15: My initial application was rejected on the basis that I did not provide any currently valid photo ID. I was given an extension to try to acquire some sort of photo ID. I managed to accomplish this (a proof of age card issued by Australia Post), and sent it off ASAP, but I am still waiting to hear back. Meanwhile, I hadn't used my ATM card in years, and a machine designated the card as expired and ate it. This put me in a precarious situation where it looked like it might be difficult to acquire a new one to access my bank account - because I didn't have photo ID to prove my identity when going into the branch to apply for the replacement card. I will post further updates here.]

***[15.07.15: I have just received news that my passport application has been successful. My ATM card issues have been sorted out. I am now ready to plan a trip..]***

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