Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Bitter/Sweet: Legal Name & Gender Marker Change

We have much to do in 2016.   It's taken 3 years for me to get to the point where I'm comfortable doing them, but this year I'd like to change TN's name and his gender marker on his legal documents. It's bitter sweet for me. 

This is stressful & bittersweet for me for 2 reasons. First, it's a LOT of paperwork and it will also require some time off work to go to places during business hours. My work is pretty cray cray but it's gotta be done!  

The second reason is that this makes things very "final" in my eyes. The name that I personally chose for my baby at birth is going to get thrown out for a name that he chose. However, I know from many parent-of-FtM's that it's critical these teens take on their new identity fully. I'm hoping perhaps we can morph his old first name into something for his new middle name - to keep a piece of his past. We'll see. 

Onto the details!

The primary legal items include his drivers license, social security card, and passport.  You can change the name on the Virginia birth certificate as well, but to change the gender marker, you have to have some medical stuff done first. Of course, there's lots of other smaller places and systems that need to be updated after these are done.

There are many steps to take (and in a particular order) to get this done and I'm fortunate that the Whitman-Walker Health staff along with the TransLaw folks in DC exist and host free Name & Gender Change legal clinics each month.  They have legal experts there that will help anyone from Maryland, Virginia and DC.  And, apparently, they even serve pizza!  I'm not sure when we're going to go yet - it'll be in March or April. I'll write about that after we do it.

I've done my pre-research and found this Virginia Name and Gender Change Checklist which covers the basics.  Along with that, there is a Name and Gender Change Guide for Virginia Residents that goes into allllllll the details.  Kinda makes your head spin.  That's why I'm glad they have the free clinics so I can bring all our documents and then work with them on our step by step plan.

In a nutshell, you have to go to court to request the name change, post a name change in a local newspaper (in some states...I know, crazy, right??), get your doctor (or I think therapist) to write a note you can take to the DMV, stand in the stupid long DMV line, go to the social security office with forms from the court, the DMV, etc and then go back to the DMV.   Oh and after that, of course you have to change everything with your bank accounts, insurance companies, schools, etc, etc, etc.

You also have to take that stuff and submit a form for a new passport as well.

Oh and you can fairly easily change your gender on your license, social security and passport.  To change the gender on a Virginia birth certificate requires a letter from a doctor stating that you have had some sort of "medical procedure" to change genders.   It's interesting because that wording is very vague.  Some doctors may feel comfortable writing that if your kid is on testosterone.  Others would want you to have top surgery.

Regardless, my main reason to get this all done in the first half of 2016 is because I want TN to be able to apply to colleges with his new legal name versus his old female name - which just causes even more confusion.

It would also be nice for TN's senior yearbook in high school to have his male name instead of his old female name since your senior yearbook is kinda one of your most important that you keep for a long time!  I asked the school this year (junior year) if his male name can be used in the yearbook and their initial response was that they didn't think so.   I'm going to pursue that a little further since this is a little different that a kid just wanting a nickname in there.  I'll have to post another time regarding my experience with TN's high school - it's actually been very positive!

As you're reading any of my posts, definitely send me a message via my blog or my His Mom - My Journey Facebook page if you'd like me to talk about other things I've dealt with or questions you have.

After we visit the name/gender change clinic and get a few things done, I'm sure I'll have another post about how that went.

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