As the days move on, I am finding myself thinking more about more about what I need to do to prepare for that anticipated date of starting to live “full time.” Its weird thinking about it. Not so much because the time is getting closer, but because I think that from my perspective, it is just an ironic way to think about the next steps and what will come with it. I mean, in my head I have always been a woman. Its just a matter now of showing the people in my real life what that means. I think that is one of the reasons I prefer the phrase “presenting full time” instead of “living full time.”
One of the many things I will have to do is change my name and gender marker on all of my legal documents. It used to be that in Virginia you couldn’t change your name and gender marker until after SRS. They started changing things a while back though because there were so many challenges to living as your authentic self while your driver’s license and other legal documents identified you with the gender you were assigned at birth. It made things so much more difficult.
So today I sat down and really started looking at what I need to do. I downloaded a checklist online and as I read through it, I have to admit that I felt pretty overwhelmed. There are so many steps in this process! There are court petitions, doctor’s and counselor’s letters that have to be submitted, fees that have to be paid, court hearings, dealing with the Social Security office, DMV and more. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I started making my to do list for everything I would need.
I did have to laugh a bit though. The very first thing the check list said, and this list came from a law firm in Washington, DC, that represents clients in Virginia…
“Make sure you have picked your new name.”
So I admit, I was giggling like a fool in the middle of the cafeteria at work when I read that. All I could think was, “Yep…got that one covered already.” That gave me a lot of laughs today. On to item two…
Next, I need to contact my local courthouse and see what is required for my county. Unfortunately, there are no uniform laws for having your name and gender marker changed in Virginia. Every city and county has different rules. Sadly, in Virginia, this is not a good thing.
While I live in an area that is relatively socially liberal, or at least they aren’t going to stop you if they don’t agree, there are a lot of areas of Virginia where the judges will use their “judicial discretion” to prevent someone from changing their gender marker. While this article is an older example from 2014, it presents some of the difficulties those of us transitioning encounter in more conservative parts of the state. And while some may try to argue that this was a 2014 case, the laws in Virginia have not changed on this and judges are still given a lot of leeway in their decisions on these matters. All they have to do is claim there believe you are going to engage in a fraudulent or deceptive act and they can deny the petition.
Sadly, this could be resolved by our General Assembly by just rewriting the law. They won’t though. There has been a bitter stand off between our legislature and the governor’s mansion on these issues for about ten years. Its about as bad as Washington, DC itself and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Hell, it was only 13 years ago that Virginia approved a state constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. Despite the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, that law still remains as part of our constitution.
Anyway…I am getting the process started. My goal is to submit all of the paperwork right when I start living as the real me. I am crossing my fingers that the judge who reviews my petition is going to read my letters, see I paid my fees and sign the order. The court approval on changing name and gender marker is the stressful part. Everything else is easy…just time consuming.
I’m getting there. Each day is a step closer to showing the world the real me. Its nice to finally feel like I can see one of the way points on this journey.
See it on Flickr.
Foxcity – Me Time 1
MINIMAL – Soho Build