name change

Name Change Folly

It’s been nearly 3 years since I went through the legal process of getting my name changed, and I’m still dealing with getting documents updated.

For my pending job offer, I needed to submit verification of my high school diploma or GED, college transcripts, and work experience.

I couldn’t find my high school certificate, so I sent in a request along with copies of my court order for my name change. I got a call when they received my request saying that I’d have to send my court order somewhere else to be approved to update my name. I said fine and just asked if they could send my certificate as is so I could get on with the employment process.

The person who contacted me then sent me an email with information on what paperwork I needed to get my name updated and where to send it. One of the pieces of documentation was a note from my doctor indicate my name and gender change. 

Now, if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, you’re wondering what my gender change has to do with the name on my records.

I responded:

I do have a question about the doctor’s note. My original doctor’s note was submitted to the court when I filed my petition for a name and gender change; therefore, I do not have a doctor’s note. Also, the doctor that wrote the note worked for Student Health Services at UCSD. I’m no longer a student there, and she no longer works there, so I have no way to contact her. Shouldn’t the court order be sufficient?

And here’s where things get ridiculous (her response):

Would you have copies of your doctor’s notes, that you may have kept for your reference, before you submitted the originals to the court. Also, wondering if you could check with the hospital where the surgery was performed for some type of documentation. This will come in handy for your future needs as well.

Please let me know.

Thank you and have a nice day!

It took me two days to muster a response that wasn’t just me going completely off on her. I still get extremely mad just thinking about it.

All my other legal documents are updated, to include my social security card, birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, etc. All these documents already indicate the gender that I am. I am completely dumbfounded at how this would even be necessary for a high school equivalency certificate. My college degrees don’t indicate gender on them, so why would a high school certificate?

And then there’s the issue that she implied that surgery is necessary for a gender change. I don’t know if it’s just plain ignorance or lack of training or what? But the whole situation is beyond my comprehension.

I responded to the best of my ability, and we’ll see what comes of it. I also sent an email asking about the process to update my name to an email address I could find which I think belongs to the person who will actually be approving my name change.

I can’t wait until my old name is gone for good. I still need to update my DD214 (military discharge papers), but up until recently, I thought that it wasn’t possible.

 

Learning to Persevere

Since I haven’t had much luck finding a job, or even getting interviews, in my job field (engineering, materials science, and/or biotech), I decided to apply to Whole Foods and Starbucks in the middle of December. I heard back from Whole Foods two Fridays ago for a Coffee and Tea Bar/Bakery part-time position. I went in for an initial interview on Monday and ended up making it to a second interview on Saturday where it was between me and one other person. I got a call yesterday saying they wanted to hire me!

I’m actually pretty excited at the opportunity to work at Whole Foods. I always told myself that when I retired, I wanted to go to culinary school and/or work as a chef. While this position isn’t either of those, it’s at least a step in that direction that’s more than my amateur cooking skills at home.

While I’m excited about this opportunity, I’m also sad that I’ve been unable to successfully find a job in my field. I’ve worked really hard over the past seven years to earn my degrees (plus tens of thousands of dollars of debt). But, I’ve been trying to stay positive. Luckily, the person who will be my supervisor at Whole Foods is aware of my desire to continue looking for jobs in my field, and if I do get another job, my willingness to work both jobs. The benefits for part-time employment are actually pretty good, to include at least a 20% discount at the store. And, I will feel a whole lot less stressed when I’m actually bringing in a paycheck (even if it’s not a lot) compared to bringing in no money.

I had to fill out some information for a background check. The information required that I document names, employment history, place of residence, and educational history in the past seven years. Of course, I had to list my birth name because I’ve only had my name legally changed for a year and a half now. I wonder if this information will be shared with the employer, or if it’s just used for verification for the agency conducting the background check. Whole Foods will be the first place that I’ve worked since transitioning where no one knows of my old identity. There will be no awkwardness or having to come out to different people who knew me before. There will be no misgendering because it slipped. I’m not sure how I feel about living “stealth,” but I’m glad that I won’t have to worry about coming out to everyone whether I want to or not (which is how I felt during my last year of school with staff and faculty who knew me before and after transitioning).

(Note: I don’t really like the term stealth because it implies that transgender people who choose not to reveal their transgender status are hiding something.)

I’m working on appreciating the things that I do have (i.e. this new job, a nice place to live, delicious food every night) rather than the things that I don’t have (i.e. a job in my field). Life takes us in unexpected directions sometimes, and sometimes it’s worth fighting against, but other times it might be the best thing to happen.

Name Change Complete (Mostly)

I made a trip to Austin, TX over the weekend to visit a close friend. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since beginning my transition. He surprised me at how well he did at calling me by the correct name and pronouns, especially. Pronouns seem to be the thing that’s hardest for people to switch, in my limited experience.

Anyway, my new birth certificate finally came the afternoon that I left for Austin (Sept 5th)! That was the last major part of my name change to be completed. Now, all I have are some minor accounts to change over still which I’ve been slacking off. But, I feel pretty good now that all my major identifying documents now have the correct name and gender. Pretty soon it will be much easier and cheaper for transgender people to get this done in California. Yay AB 1121.

My transition is coming along smoothly. Today marks 20 weeks on testosterone. I listened to a recording of my voice that I made today and one from day 7; the difference is pretty incredible. I could not stand the sound of my voice before, but now I actually like the way it sounds. Another thing I’ve noticed since switching my injections from every two weeks to weekly is that I haven’t been anxious for the next injection like I had been previously. I feel like the more frequent doses have leveled out my hormone levels which result in more stable emotional states as well.

Life of a grad student is very busy. I feel like I’ve been slacking on making regular updates, but I will keep trying. Until next time.

They spelled my name wrong

image

Okay, so they didn’t actually spell it wrong. A year ago or so, EH&S was offering free, personalized lab coats to all lab members. Unfortunately, at that time, I was still going by my given name. Today, my lab coat finally arrived. I do admit though, it’s nice to have my own lab coat that isn’t all grimy and smelly. It’s just that it now has the wrong name. Also, it almost doesn’t fit in the shoulder region. I expect to make more gains in that region. I was joking with some guys in the lab about being hulk-like. I think I’m going to try to score another pair of lab coats, though.

Last night, I was grabbing some food with a couple of other grad students. The waiter came by and asked, “would you gentlemen like some more water?” That pretty much made my night. The frequency of me being identified as female is slowly decreasing. A couple of friends even commented on my voice being lower after not seeing them for two weeks. That was definitely a huge confidence booster since in the beginning they hardly noticed the changes. I feel like since my dose increased some changes have started happening slightly faster. I’ve only been on the new dose for three weeks now, but it seems to be making a difference.

I just wanted to make a quick update and show off my new lab coat. =)

3 months on T!

First thing’s first, photos!

20130725 Back 3

20130725 Full Body 1-4

20130725 Full Body 2-4

I finally got my legal court order for my name and gender change on Friday. There was even another trans guy there. He was ahead of me on the list, so he went before I did. It was nice to have that happen, so I knew what to expect when it was my turn to go in front of the judge. Then, we sat outside the court room for nearly an hour as we waited for the rest of the name changes to happen and to receive our certified copies. I sat across from him, but a couple of chairs over. I wanted to talk to him, but I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate, so I didn’t.

I think I’m itching to have others to talk to about experiences in person. It’s nice to have all these internet resources, blogs, and YouTube videos, but there’s something to just having a conversation with someone. I haven’t had the pleasure of talking to another trans person (at least not as far as I’m aware) in person. I know there are discussion groups down at The Center, but they are on weeknights and somewhat inconvenient for me to get to due to work and such. Hopefully, I will be able to make it to a discussion group one of these weeks. I’ve been saying that for months now, but I can continue to hope!

Back to the name change stuff, I went to social security administration immediately after my court hearing. In California, in order to update your driver’s license, your information has to be first updated in the social security database. And I wanted a new ID as soon as possible. I also put my application in the mail for a new birth certificate. Who knows how long that will take to arrive. I went to the DMV on Monday. They took my driver’s license and replaced it with a piece of paper with my updated information (no photo), took my picture, and told me that I’d get my new driver’s license in 7-10 days. For two days, I was thinking to myself, “now how am I going to buy beer for the next two weeks since they took my only photo ID that has my date of birth?” Finally, I realized that I still have my passport, hah! I updated my school records and my bank records, as well. No one seemed to bat an eye, except when I called my bank. The woman on the other end said to me after I said I wanted to change my name and gender, “So, you are changing to mister?” Then, she told me that she needed to call some other people to see if it was within her job scope to make the requested the changes. I think she probably never encountered such a request, but she handled it pretty well, I think.

I finally came out to the lab I work in. I wrote an email to them while I was waiting at social security. It feels like such a relief to finally not have that hanging over my head. I have had very positive responses (or no response at all). Everyone is actually putting in an effort to call my August and use the correct pronouns. I was concerned about one or two of my coworkers reactions, but they seem to be very cool about the whole thing. I finally feel like… I don’t know, myself.

As far as physical changes go, I am finally starting to get in a bit more facial hair, mostly just the sideburns and the chin, but I’ll take it. It’s still pretty sparse and light in color, but it is coming in steadily. My muscles are still growing! I’ve gained nearly 15 pounds from my pre-transition weight. I’m pretty sure this is nearly all muscle since I haven’t seen a change in my hip or waist measurements, but measurements of my neck, biceps, calves, thighs, and shoulders have gone up. I’m still kind of disappointed that I haven’t seen an apparent change in my fat distribution. I intend to increase the frequency of my cardio workouts to at least facilitate fat loss since it doesn’t seem to want to move. I’m pretty pleased with the rate that I’m gaining muscle though. I’ve noticed that I’m had a really huge appetite lately now that I’ve been able to consistently been able to work out. I noticed an increase when I began taking testosterone, but it’s reached another level. Sometimes, I eat a decent sized meal, and within an hour or less, I’m starving again.  Below the belt, I have definitely noticed an increase in size. It’s been 5 weeks and some days since my last period. I’m hoping that continues; the time between the last two was 7 weeks.

The Dreaded Pelvic Exam

I feel like my last post was a bit dramatic, and I would like to delete. However, in an effort to keep everything real here and not sugarcoated, I’ll let it remain there as it is. It was how I felt at that time. Now, let’s move on to more exciting topics.

It has been a little over 5 years since I’ve had my last pelvic exam, which I think is a bit longer than one should go without getting one of those things. I’d say that probably the only reason I even got one then was because I was in the military and a full physical was required before I was allowed to be on my merry way out.

So, I wasn’t actually dreading it. I just thought it was a fun title for this post. I mean, yes, it’s uncomfortable and awkward (even for cisgender women) having your doctor so into such a personal and private area, but I feel pretty comfortable with that area. It doesn’t cause me huge dysphoria. Sure, I’d like to have fully functioning male sex anatomy, but that is never going to be possible for me. Either way, my doctor knows that for FtMs getting this exam can be extremely uncomfortable, so she was really accommodating and understanding. It was relatively quick and painless.

Besides that, we talked about how the transition was coming along. I complained about the lack of fat distribution (my hips and thighs are still the same size, if not slightly larger in circumference, as before I started T), but also talked about how nice it was to see the increase in my muscle mass. We’re waiting to see if my period is going to come within the next couple of weeks, but I will be meeting with her in a little over a month to talk about a possible dose increase along with getting blood work done to see how I’m adjusting to the recent dose increase.

Other than that, she typed a new letter for my legal gender change that stated that I “have undergone” rather than “is undergoing” clinically appropriate treatment. My court hearing is scheduled for this Friday. I will bring my new letter with me, and I hope that will be the end of it. I plan to go to social security right after my hearing and already have a DMV appointment scheduled for Monday, assuming everything goes according to plan. I also have my paperwork filled out and ready to drop in the mail for my new birth certificate once I have the court order in hand.

Here’s to hoping everything goes smoothly on Friday.

A Nice Surprise

I went up to the armpit of California this weekend/beginning of the week to help my family with their move into their new house. It was ridiculously hot compared to what I’m used to down in San Diego. I was expecting my family to continue to call me by my birth name and use female pronouns, but I was pleasantly surprised. They actually made an effort to call me August and even corrected themselves when they used the wrong name. They did the same with male pronouns. It was a really nice experience. I don’t know why they decided to change all of a sudden, but I have two theories: Either they decided that since my legal name change was supposed to happen on Friday they should now try or they stumbled upon my blog and saw that I was bothered by them calling me by my birth name. Either way, it was really nice, and I’ll just go with it.

I’m coming up on 11 weeks on testosterone pretty soon here. I’ve noticed that people aren’t misgendering anymore, but really just not gendering me at all. When I go to stores or restaurants, the cashiers will use sir or ma’am with the customers ahead of me, but then when it comes to my turn, they don’t use any gendered terms at all. For me, this is actually a nice change since a few weeks ago I was complaining about still getting called ma’am and whatnot. However, I’m still looking forward to when I will get consistently called sir.

I put off coming out at work until my name change was legal, but since it got postponed, it gave me a reason to procrastinate more. It’s kind of disappointing in a way though, since I kind of want it to just be over with at this point. Coming out to people causes a lot of anxiety for me, and the thought of coming out to about 10-15 at once kind of sends it into overdrive. I just want to be done with this whole coming out process. I’m ready to get to the point where everyone that knew me before my transition is aware of my current gender identity and also where new people I meet only know me as August. I don’t know how I feel about living in stealth. I feel as though I will be open and honest with people I get to know. There is a huge part of my life that I don’t want to hide, and that experience is tied to the gender I was living as at the time. I can’t erase the past. It has made me who I am today.