Sunday, February 28, 2010

Countdown!

We are now approximately 7 hours away from surgery. I'm all showered and clean, and C has changed out my industrial barbell for the PTFE one. We're going over all the checklists and stuff that the doctor supplied, to make sure we have all the necessary supplies.

After seeing the doctor, I feel a lot better and more excited about everything. It's going to be a long road of recovery, but all the results will be worth the trouble and cost.

There's not a whole lot else to say. Thank you all again for your support! I'll see you on the other side.

En route!

Just making a quick post from a MOVING TRAIN! We stopped in St. Louis for supplies and whatever else they needed to do (fuel?)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Getting ready

The last couple nights have been spent getting ready for the upcoming trip - picking up a lot of the items I'll need, including some comfy clothes, medical supplies, and last night, a dose of sanity.

As you might expect, this is freaking me out beyond any and all places I've ever been before. It's going to be brutal. I'll be ugly and scary looking for a number of days after. And I'm going to hurt. There's going to be pain, and more pain, and some more pain after that. I've got a decently high pain tolerance, but... well, I really don't know what's coming.

There's that fear of the unknown again. And this unknown is about as big as it gets. In the meanwhile, I'm just trying to take it as easy as possible, and trying to not get so stressed out that I, say, get sick. Total fail on that last bit, but oh well.

I'm not sure what else there is to be said. The trip begins in earnest on Saturday, at a bit past one in the afternoon. I'll try to keep everyone up to date here and on twitter. I'll also have C send periodic updates to twitter, when I am... indisposed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Try, try again

I spent some time with my mother on Saturday. I hadn't really told her much about what was coming up, and figured I ought, since the things that are coming up are so dramatic. We spent a couple hours talking, though a lot of that time was spent with each of us in our own heads. She's absolutely panicked that I won't come back from the surgery, that I'm going to die. I assured her that I would come back to her, probably as much to settle her fears as to settle my own. And I tried again to explain the why of it all. I might have done a better job this time, or at least given her some decent things to think about. There was a glimmer of understanding behind her eyes.

She also did accept that I am much more comfortable with myself than I have ever been. She said that when the whole family was there over Christmas, she could see it in my body language. Even with all the tension, I was very relaxed with myself.

I still haven't told her my new name. I can't even go there. I just can't. She's going to do that you-killed-my-dog face again, I just know it. I know she probably doesn't mean to do it, but she does. And knowing that it's the things I'm telling her that are making that face... I can't do that. I want her to ask about it; then I would know she's at least considered the idea, and might not completely disintegrate. Right now, though, she's not ready for that.

I did assure her that C and I would keep her up to date while we were away in Chicago. It's the absolute least I can do. She finally seems to be trying, and I can't just gloss over that. Before, I think she was mostly just hoping it was a phase, and would go away on its own. But now that she knows I'm spending a ridiculous amount of money, and heading halfway across the country, and having such a dramatic surgery, that this is 100% real. I also offered that she come with me for my next appointment with my therapist, which I have done before on more than one occasion, but this time she actually accepted.

There were a lot of tears. It seems like most of our interaction is like that now. Hopefully that will ease, now that the big changes are coming to a close. I know that it will probably take a good bit more time, and things may never end up the way they were before. She might need to mourn the loss of her son for the rest of her life. She may never be able to understand or accept that she has a new daughter. Only time will tell.

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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Soon, soon

I met with the lawyer today, to go over the petitions that we're going to file, and the orders we hope to have signed. Friday is the court date, and then... it should be done. Then I'll get to go around to all the various agencies and show them the orders, and get them to update my records.

I should probably be excited and ecstatic, and all those other good things. I have to say that I'm more numbed by the whole thing; my stress level is so high, I can barely even think half the time. I haven't slept worth a darn in the last month or more. I don't expect much sleep Thursday night, and I expect to be sleepwalking through Friday, and I expect to be a zombie for most of the coming weekend. The implications of what's about to happen are so completely lost on me right now, and that's really sad.

I also had an appointment with my doctor this morning. The surgeon who will be doing my upcoming facial surgery requested several tests, which involved poking and listening, and drawing of blood, and an EKG. I also asked him about possibly taking over management of my HRT, since the doctor who's currently handling mine has yet to perform a single test on me, after 14 months. He said he was not very well versed on such matters, but he would at least try.

No big insights to offer. Just a status update.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Papers, please!

I've been fretting over the paperwork I've had to collect for my upcoming name change. It seemed like a big long list at first, but as I've gotten pieces here and there, the list is actually pretty short. This evening, I spent a little time writing the couple of letters which the lawyer requested that I write, and a letter from Dr. Raphael came in the mail today, and I got another copy of the letter from my endocrinologist this afternoon, so I've almost got everything. The only thing left is a fingerprint card, for which I have scheduled an appointment at lunchtime tomorrow. Then I'll just have to write a check, and take everything to the lawyer's office.

Then the court date is next Friday. It's happening very quickly! Whoosh, and we're almost done! After that, I get to visit various government offices and get records changed.

One of the pieces of documentation I had to collect was a copy of my birth certificate, which my parents have. My dad took care of digging out the form and making the copy; he was very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, which was great. My mom, when I told her why I needed it, made a face like I had killed her dog. I know she's having trouble, but every time she does that, it's like she's trying to guilt me into stopping and going back. I'd really like to get in her face about it, but I'm sure that would do little else but make her dig her heels in and resist all the more, or give her a more upset feeling about the whole thing. I know I've got to give everyone time, and they'll see the importance of these changes, but it's just hard. I waited on myself for a long time, and now it seems I have little patience to wait on anyone else.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A rose by any other...

One of the things that I've left off doing until now, is changing my name. It seems most appropriate to do now that I'm right at the point of needing my name to match my new identity. The timing and the amount of things I need to do, at the same time as all the other things that are going on... It's doing its best to turn into a stress bomb.

I met with the lawyer last Thursday, and she went over most of the stuff I needed to do. I guess the list isn't terribly difficult, and I already have some of the papers. But it's just more things to do. Then there's the cost. This particular lawyer is only willing to advise when she gets to handle all the court stuff, and of course that comes at a very lawyer-like price. Just another expense that I didn't need right now, since I'm struggling a little with surgery costs at the moment too.

So, documents and a big check will put me on the docket for the 12th. I do have to get it done, and this lawyer is supposedly the one to work with for transgender name changes. I understand her reasons for how she handles things, and can appreciate that she's got a lot of experience, and many good contacts, and she does need to run her business and make a living, but her total cutthroat attitude does not make me happy. I'm not getting a very warm feeling from the experience so far - I don't feel like a client, but rather just a source of money. Once the court date rolls around, we'll see how things go.

On the bright side, once the court decree comes through (which should be on the same day as the court session), I'll be able to get name and gender changed on my social security card and my driver's license, and I'll also be able to get a passport in my new name and gender. Then the process of getting everything else changed begins. Bank accounts, work records, all that stuff.

Speaking of work, I met with the HR director and the benefits coordinator on Friday, along with my manager. We talked about my plans regarding surgery, and vacation/leave, and they gave me a bunch of forms to fill out. No HR department is complete without a big stack of forms. I think we have a pretty good plan; I'll probably need to finalize some minor details with my manager, but it seems like we're on track for a pretty smooth transition.

This post feels pretty incomplete, but I did want to get something down, even though I have very little mental and emotional energy right now. Next post will hopefully be better.