Probably one of the most frustrating things for a transgender person is when they finally hit that day when it is time to go full time. They face so much frustration between court approval for name change to Social Security, DMV/RMV, Birth Certificates, banks, credit card companies, etc. While getting one’s name changed is a fairly simple process, putting that new name into place can be frustrating.
For me, it started by submitting for my name change with the court back in May of 2016. For some, this involves having to actually appear in court. For me, it was just submitting documents, but it wasn’t cheap. I think the court submission was about $180, but then I had to have my name change posted in the local newspaper. Of course, that outed me to the two people who actually read the legal notices in the local paper. You then had to wait, I think it was four weeks to allow for anyone to oppose to approach the court. I was told this process was to prevent you from changing your name to get out of financial responsibilities. Though, I don’t think the larger companies I do business with actually read the local paper. I got word back that my name change was approved just before my trip to Austin, but it allowed me to approach work while there. HR was informed as was my boss, but I still had to go to Social Security before work could change things.
Here is where the first rub comes in, I could get my name changed with no problem with the court order, but in order to change the gender marker, my endocrinologist would need to provide a letter. More on this later, as this has not happened to a hold up I will explain later. With Social Security changed, I had to wait for my new Social Security card and send a copy to HR. The next stop was the DMV/RMV. I fortunately, hit there early enough, so there were little lines. Mind you, this was the early days of going full time so confidence was low. Yet, I pushed on. As it turned out, I had the court order for the name change so that sailed through with just my renewal fee. Ah, but a snag. When I got home, I took out my new license to check it out. Well, the name was changed but they didn’t change the marker even though I had checked that box. I did some digging and found there was yet another form and a letter from my psych/counselor to get that changed. I got the letter from my counselor and filled out the form. It cost yet another $25 and a short wait for the updated license, but the new license with the proper gender arrived. Phew.
I had taken the week off to get everything changed over. I had sent a letter out to work and offered for others that explained the change and included a Q&A. I had included that in an earlier post here. My credit union was really great and had my name changed before I knew it. She did advise that the new ATM cards with the chip had caused a backlog and it could be weeks. She advised that I just pull cash at an ATM rather than use it in stores so I don’t out myself. She advised that sometimes the terminals will show the name. So for a few weeks, I had to use ATMs to get cash and just pay cash for everything. My joint account went much faster and I had that card in hand first. Soon all my credit cards, ATM cards, and accounts were switched over. I did have to contact work to get my corporate card switched. I had tried to do that directly, but ran into difficulties until they explained that like my health insurance that information all came from the company. Just need to get the mortgage and deed updated.
So everything was going smoothly until I went to update my birth certificate. Soon frustration was high as I had to have yet another form done, but this one signed by my endocrinologist. Note, that this is the same person that has to sign for the gender marker change for Social Security, but they have to sign a form letter for that. Well, I submitted that to the doctor, but she referred it to their legal department where it has languished. Eventually GLAD got involved and their law office is trying to contact my doctor. I have to wait a week to give them time to reply to the lawyer’s request. Mind you, people in the community have been advised to get all this taken care of before the new administration takes office as it appears they are very anti-LGBT. So there is some trepidation on my part, but hanging in there. The birth certificate is in state, and being in Massachusetts we have laws protecting the LGBT community including recent legislation that protects transgender. Though, as we have seen in North Carolina, those protections could be overridden. (Charlotte had passed a law protecting transgender rights in the city, but the Republican governor pushed through an emergency bill that overrode those protections. See HB2)
As it stands, I need my birth certificate, marriage certificate, mortgage, deed, and Social Security gender marker changed. I am fighting to get my name and marker changed on my birth certificate at the moment. I don’t have a passport because I don’t leave the country, but I will need one at some point. The birth certificate and Social Security are dependent on my doctor signing the papers. I am a 58 year old woman who is being held hostage by a signature!
As I stated in an earlier posting, it is time to awaken my inner Boudica. I will fight for my right to exist, ON MY TERMS!! I will spend the week waiting for the doctor’s response to the GLAD lawyers putting together information and evidence to present to the Attorney General. At First Event last year, she said that should experience discrimination of any sort, to let her office know. I feel the hoops we have to go through just to be recognized officially as who we are, is discriminatory, especially if we have to have someone else okay our existence.
For my transgender friends, if you are in a doctor’s care and they have a patient portal that holds all your care, be sure to download everything. I have done so and that is the evidence as it has all the appointments, blood results, prescriptions, etc. I can prove I was under the doctors care. I will also contact my state Rep and Senator. The process needs to be looked at when there is such inconsistency. It was easier to get my ID changed than my birth certificate which no one looks at.
As I have stated in this series, why would anyone choose to be transgender? Everything is a struggle with numerous hoops to jump through. Is it any wonder that the suicide rate is over 45% when there is so much to face just to be you?
Let me leave this on a positive note. I have been on HRT for over a year now. I do hope to have surgery in another year or two, but that requires about two weeks out of work and a boat load of cash. However, I have been living full time since July thanks to the love and support of my wife Cindy. I grow stronger every day. I went shopping today at a market I don’t usually go to and bumped into some people I knew from before. They had joined my Facebook page and were aware and saw pictures of me. They were amazed and told me how great I looked and how the pics on Facebook just don’t do me justice. There were hugs all around. I was blown away. It is those moments that keep me from receding back into the darkness when I face the obstacles that have been placed in our path. I am loved and that is the most powerful weapon of them all.
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.