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.