I’m Official!

In the eyes of the State of California, I officially and legally became female on June 3.  A court order was issued changing both my name and gender, and I could not have been happier.  Honestly, the hearing was a formality. The judge called my (new) name, said all my paperwork was in order, and that the clerk would be giving me my certified copy.  And with that, I was legal!

I had waited in anticipation of this day for a long time.  When I first filed my case with the Court, I was told the first available hearing would be in July–a four month wait.  That sounded excruciating, especially since it would come after my June birthday.  But then a call came in a few weeks after I filed for the Court clerk’s office informing me they could move my date up, and it would be before my birthday.  Yes, please!

The days leading up to the big day were filled with a lot of emotion.  I began reflecting on the nearly two years I have been on the transition journey and how far I have come to get to this point.  There have been great struggles and some successes, but all the while, there has been progress, and that is important.  My wife has also been doing a lot of personal work and as a result have become much more supportive of my transition, especially since I went full-time and she did not have to keep my secret anymore.  The ability to talk with others I think has relieved some (but certainly not all) of her anxiety.  Still, this has all been understandably difficult for her, and when asked if she would attend my hearing, she refused saying she didn’t think she was ready for that.  That saddened me because, even though we will eventually dissolve as a couple, she has been a cornerstone of my life for 10 years.  Her support does mean a lot to me, and to not have my family present on a supremely significant day was hard to experience.

Compounding those feelings was the fact that my own mother could not be present.  She died four years ago, two years before I began my transition.  She, undoubtedly, was the moist important person in my life.  I had an incredible relationship with my mother.  When I lost her, I lost my best friend, my advocate, and a huge piece of my heart.  Many times I have wondered what she knew about me before I came to realize it.  I think she had an idea, but never expressed it outright to me.  In retrospect, she implied a few things, but I had to come to my own conclusions without her influence.  I wish I would have had her input and advice through my transition.  She would have supported me every step of the way, and I know she would have moved heaven and earth to have been in attendance at my 15-minute hearing.  That’s just the kind of person she was, and not just because I was her child.

Despite being super emotional, I was lucky enough to have a friend join me, so I would not be alone on my big day.  She took me out to lunch, and I always be thankful of her for being there.  Still, I missed my family.

After the hearing and lunch, my friend dropped me off at home, and I started driving around the world:  Social Security, DMV, my bank, my work.  That night, I took advantage of 24/7 customer service and the Internet to put my name and gender changes in motion.  I understand now what newlyweds feel when they have to go through the name change process.  Lots of red tape, a few errors, lots of phone calls.  But, I am getting through the bureaucracy relatively quickly.  It is great to receive mail with my real name on it.  I was super excited when my debit card arrived and even more excited when my driver’s license arrived!  Yes, they took the world’s worst picture of me, but it had my name and an F, and really, that’s all it really needed to have to make me happy and feel like I belonged and recognized in the world.

My mom would have been proud.  My dad is proud.  My children love me.  My wife & I are repairing our friendship.  Most days I feel supported and loved.  I really don’t need the recognition of the world to know who and what I am, but I am human, and I would be lying if I said I did not care what others think about me.  Being recognized as the woman I know I am actually does mean a lot, and that’s what makes that F on my license so important.

Returning from Hiatus

Have I not posted since February?  Oh my!

When I first started this blog, I mainly began writing as a means to get my feelings out and share my experiences when I felt I had very few options available to me.  I think my recent hiatus is as a result of my ever expanding social circle.  That is, I have more people to talk to!  This is especially true since coming out as a full-time in January.  Prior to that, I had to pick and choose who I talked to and when, for I did not want my secret getting out any sooner than I desired.  Those restrictions melted away when I went Facebook official.

I soon came to realize that I had an enormous amount of people who supported me, even those I had not talked to in decades.  On significant posts like my transition announcement, photos of my after a professional photo session, or even my birthday, I can receive up to 120 reactions, and for a girl like me who is happy to get 10 likes and a few comments, that’s huge and esteem lifting.  With all of the outpouring of love, I found that I did not need to post to my blog as much, but that doesn’t seem right either.  While there are a minuscule amount of people that actually read my words here (including my wife), I should continue to document my feelings and journey.  If I can help even one person with my words, if someone can be inspired or guided in their journey because of my experiences, then I am doing a service for others.  And I do myself a service by continuing to express myself. So while there will be hiatuses in my writing in the future, I am still resolved to write in this space, and I hope you find me interesting enough to read.

So, what has happened since I came out (which I documented in 3 separate posts before my hiatus)?  A lot of life, really.  My son graduated kindergarten(!), and his teacher and fellow parents came to accept me, as far as I could tell.  I even accompanied my son’s class on a field trip as a chaperone, and no one questioned it, not even the kids.  I felt like such a mom, and I felt empowered.  I feel it is important for me to play an active role in his learning, and I do not want to be a parent who is absent in the classroom.  That doesn’t mean I need to be teacher’s pet or hover over my son in class, but I need to know I can freely participate in his learning and his activities without barrier, and chaperoning this trip help prove that is possible.

Work has kept me busy.  I work as a front line supervisor in retail for that company–the one that recently informed the world of its already existing equal opportunity employment program that reiterated employees and guests were invited to use the bathroom matching their gender identity.  That statement put me in a bit of a spotlight–more than the one I was already in after coming out only a few months prior–but I am lucky to work in a very progressive area, and it really has been a non-issue so far.  Lucky me.  That’s not to say it’s been all rosy.  I have been harassed and offended at least twice in 5 months, but overall, guests have been incredibly accepting, and that makes my life easier.  I am even bold enough to wear a dress at work now, something no one else at my store does.

On the volunteer front, I have been bust there, too.  I’m not sure I have shared this before here, but I am a Little League umpire now finishing my 11th consecutive season on the field.  My transition caused waves in my local league, and I even considered resigning my position as Umpire-in-Chief based on the undercurrent that occurred when I came out.  As the season has progressed though, I believe I have settled most fears and both my league president and the district administrator acknowledge my skills.  We’ll see how well I have allayed fears when next year’s board members are elected.  Will they vote me in again?

I have also experienced some interesting things just being a girl.  People hold doors for me, compliment my beauty, and even flirt with me.  These are things I am adjusting to, for I never received that kind of treatment as a male.  It is definitely flattering, but I also find myself having to learn things that a prepubescent girl would have been taught at an early age.  Things like how to turn a guy down, avoid creepers, properly bending down when wearing a skirt, and using caution when walking alone night.  While I can take care of myself, I find I need to be a little more vigilant as I get more comfortable being in my body.

5 months full-time.  Really, that time has flown by.  A friend of mine projected her experience on me and warned me about how difficult the first year of full-time would be, but I feel like I am right in the groove.  I do not question where I am because I went through so much agony getting to this point.  I already have a sense of style.  I already have acceptance of most of my family.  My body continues to develop and change.  But ultimately, I am happier.  I am more comfortable in my softer skin, my attire, my makeup, and I continue to make improvements when I need to.  I am certainly not where I want to finish.  There is much to work on.  But, I am not in the dark place I was two years ago when I started this journey.  I am not as depressed or contemplating very dark things.  I am more optimistic in the face of financial and personal despair.  I am poor.  I will lose my wife.  But I am so much closer to the authentic me.  I have my children, and I have support of my family, friends, and even my wife (as much as she can offer through the pain she is suffering).  The authentic me can look forward, while the old me had given up.  The last two years have been unquestionably difficult, but the last 5 months have actually oddly been easier than the rest.  No secrets.  No hiding.  Just me being the real me, and I am a better, happier, more complete person for it.