Sunday, July 31, 2016

7-31-2016 Entry: My Name and Gender Change Court Date (3 Months Late... oops)

Oh my good Lawd!! I cannot, even slightly, begin to believe that I never finished this entry! I started writing it MONTHS ago and never completed it, and as far as I can tell, never told any of you about it! I think I very briefly mentioned having done this, but didn’t go into any details about it. That just cannot stand!

 I didn’t, perhaps, put the final shine on it that I could have, but I think I was able to wrap it up nicely given my current state of mind (new entry on that coming momentarily). Just bear in mind that most of this was written three months ago, and a lot of things have happened since then, especially recently. I wish I could be as happy ] today as I was then, but the gods have a cruel sense of humor. Anyways, I give you, straight from the archives of my documents folder, Emma’s name day story:

“Hello my darling readers! I hope you are well. I know that I am well. Actually, I am more than just well, I’m officially a lady!! That’s right, after putting it off for ages and ages I have finally changed my name and gender.

Today was my court hearing and I am pleased to report that both of my witnesses showed up (one of which was my ex-wife) and that the judge granted my request for both the name change and the gender change. It was quite the experience, I have to say. I went second to last after a long list of other people wanting to change their name and a few who were doing exactly as I was doing. It was lovely to see the joy on their faces as their orders were granted and they, like me, were finally able to live their lives as the appropriate gender.

I was rather nervous going into this court hearing, and was worried that I didn’t have the proper documentation or information for the judge to grant what I wanted. I was also rather sickly as I had caught the flu, so I was concerned about how my appearance might affect things. I didn’t want the judge to mistake my death-warmed-over appearance as something worse (like that I was trying to hide something or that I wasn’t of sound mind and body).

All of my nerves, however, were for naught because once I was standing in front of the judge and my ex-wife and my dear friend had confirmed that I was who I said I was, it didn’t take very long for the process to be completed. He asked me several questions making sure I wasn’t trying to evade the police, judgment, or debt and then began to ask me about my transition. He asked me what steps I had taken towards this gender change and I explained that I had been on estrogen for about 14 months and that I was living my life in every regard as Emma. He then went on to ask if I had any additional documentation, to which I provided him with a letter from my therapist stating that she had been treating me for gender transition for about 18 months. This seemed to appease his curiosity except he then went on to ask me a question I found rather intrusive, and it was the one I feared he might ask.

You see, earlier in the session a transgender woman had asked for the gender change as well and the judge asked her if she was planning to have gender reassignment surgery. I found this to be a very intrusive and honestly unnecessary question. I think she did as well as she stammered an answer that she didn’t know if she would or not. Thankfully the judge (who I might add was a middle-aged white cisgender male) accepted this answer and did not press for more details or try to use this answer as a reason not to grant the order.

He proceeded to ask me the same question and I’m guessing that he also asked the trans woman after me although I cannot say for sure because we left right away. I wanted to say something smart or bratty like, “I don’t think that’s any of your business,” or “That is a really invasive question into a very private matter,” but, alas, I did not fly my queer flag high in front of the man who had the power to deny me my legal womanhood. Instead I answered honestly that I did want to have reassignment surgery at some point. He then proceeded, to my amazement and horror, to ask me about the timeline of the gender transition process.

Imagine my discomfort as this man, wielding every kind of privilege that exists, began to interrogate me about gender transition specifics. It reminded me so much of the things I studied in my multicultural therapy class the past semester about the oppressors expecting the oppressed to teach them. This man, without a moment of hesitation, felt it was not only appropriate but his very right to question me about gender transition, as if I am some expert on the subject simply because I am embarking on one myself. How does one really react to this? Again if I flew my queer flag too high and advised him to search somewhere else for his answers he may very well have taken offense and denied me.

The mere fact that he was even in a place of power says something about our society. Why is it the privilege of some middle-aged white lawyer to determine whether or not I am a female on the inside? And why on earth is this man, who seemed utterly clueless to the process of gender transition, charged with hearing these petitions? That’s like me making decisions about who should be the chief financial officer of a fortune 500 company. I have no idea who is best qualified for that job, just as this man has no clue who is best qualified for name/gender change (and the answer is anyone, which makes this all the more tragic).

Despite my ruminations on the nature of power and privilege, I answered his invasive question, put on the spot as I was. He seemed satisfied with what I told him about how it can be different from one person to another depending on what they chose to do, how HRT worked and how long it took to see results, what SRS looked like, how expensive it was, and how long of a recovery it was. He decided in all of his privilege and social power, to grant me my official womanhood. Yep, that’s right, now my drivers license, social security, and eventually birth certificate will read Emma Edwins, Female (I was born outside the U.S. so my birth certificate was granted by the foreign affairs’ department of the state department, so it’s kind of a pain).

After he granted me the order, I told him thank you (again with a piece of me rebelling against the fact that I had to thank a perfect stranger for something I should have had the right to do on my own), and the three of us departed. My ex-wife congratulated me and seemed genuinely happy for me. She gave me a hug goodbye and left. My friend, who was over the moon with excitement, gave me a hug to remember and said that we had to go out and celebrate that night. I agreed whole-heartedly and said a temporary goodbye.  I walked out of the courthouse and got into my car and started to cry. Finally, finally, I could say to the world that I was a girl, and not have my legal name and sex contradict me. I was Emma and I was a “real” girl…”

There you have it. Short and sweet. I have been working through the painstaking process of changing my name all over the place. Seriously, you forget how many places need your legal name until you have to call each of them and jump through their typical name-change hoops, not to mention the sex marker too. It’s pretty dreadful until your bills (shakes fist at the sky) come in your new name and you get to pay for things with a credit/debit card with your correct name on it. Then, suddenly, it all seems worth it.

Okay darlings, I’m off to start working on my next entry. It’s late so I may not finish it tonight, and if I don’t finish tonight it probably won’t go up until Tuesday or Wednesday because the next couple days are pretty packed with things to do. Full time grad school and close to full time work is taking its toll on me mentally and physically, so I might value sleep more than updating the blog. That doesn’t mean I don’t love you or that you aren’t important to me, it’s just that Auntie Emma needs her beauty sleep to keep all this fabulous under control =p:::

Stay beautiful, stay brilliant, stay amazing, and remember that you are irreplaceable! As we say at my job after the serenity prayer, YOU ARE SOMEBODY!!


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