Sunday, February 14, 2010

A whole new (legal) person

This past Friday, I did the scariest thing yet: I changed my name. For the last couple weeks, I've been collecting various pieces of documentation, and fretting over the court date. I knew there was probably very little to worry about, since the lawyer was very experienced in these matters, but as I've said on several occasions before, I never let reality get in the way of a good panic. And as it usually is, the whole thing ended up being not much of anything. The activity was pretty simple, but the implications were pretty incredible.

K had volunteered to come along as moral support, and he stayed over on Thursday night so we could get started at the correct hour. We had a few hours of travel to get to the venue, so the alarm went off at a ridiculously early time. I was actually surprised that I was able to sleep halfway decently; I expected to be staring at the ceiling for a few hours. But we got up and got going just a few minutes after I had hoped. Travel time was almost exactly what I had budgeted, and we got to the courthouse early, as I had intended. We found the room where we were to meet the lawyer, and I had a small breakfast.

Once the lawyer appeared, we convened with another trans person who was changing his name too, and headed off to a very crowded courtroom. A few minutes later, we left that room and headed off in search of another courtroom. The lawyer said that the judge in the second court was somebody she knew and had worked with before. The second courtroom was almost empty, so we filed in and sat down. The lawyer spoke with the judge for a minute or so, and then called us up. I waited for a few minutes while the lawyer presented the petition of the other person, and was surprised at how simple it was. The judge signed the order, and that was all done... now it was my turn!

I stepped up and the lawyer went over the petition we were presenting, and over all the papers I had collected. She asked me a number of questions, which we had gone over before. We presented the judge with two different decrees for her signature: one for name and gender change, and one for name, gender, and birth certificate amendment. She chose the latter, and with a smile, wished me luck. It was just that simple.

K later remarked that he had never seen me smiling bigger than I was as I made my way back to the benches. I was in a fog at the time, so I didn't really have any concept of anything. I'll take his word for it.

The lawyer spoke with the judge for another minute or two, and we filed out of the room. We then headed to the clerk, to retrieve our certified copies of our orders. Then we were done. We said our goodbyes, and went back to the car.

I had suggested to K earlier that if we got done early enough, I'd like to visit a DPS office and/or a Social Security office, to get those changes underway. Seeing as it was only 10:30, and we had plenty of time, we headed off to a DPS office to do the drivers license. There was one person in front of me in line; I waited my turn, presented my court order, and it was done. New photo, new signature, and of course, new name. That took all of twenty minutes.

Next stop was the Social Security office, and after a mishap with choosing an incorrect office, we got to another, and began the typical government office interminable wait. We were probably sitting for an hour when we were finally called. The clerk who made the changes was very nice, and we were done in probably ten minutes.

Once we got done with everything, it was a bit after noon, and I was starting to get a headache from stress and not eating. We found a good restaurant, had lunch, and then after a quick detour, got back on the road home.

So now I've got a new name, and a new legal gender. It is kind of a surreal feeling. I'm this whole new person, sort of, but not really. I'm still just me. And since I am not using that identity on a full-time basis yet, it's still something of an academic distinction. It probably just needs a little time to sink in, and I am guessing that once those new ID cards start appearing in the mail, that it will really hit me.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what to say, other than "whee, congratulations!" Enjoy those new batches of mail, Ms. ^_^

Jerica Truax said...

yay girl! I'm so happy for you!!! *tears!* *hugs!*

Isn't it such an amazing feeling? =)