In my previous two posts (Part 1 & Part 2) I wrote about my experiences in obtaining a name change and a new drivers license in a new state with a new name. I alluded to some deeper meaning in those posts that I would like to take some time and explore here.
To summarize, the judge presiding over my name change accused me of being deceptive because I was a “female” changing my name to a “male” name, and reminded me that I would have to work hard to not deceive people. He gave me a hard time but eventually signed off on it. Then, the DMV issued me a driver’s license with a male gender marker, despite my providing supporting documentation that I’m legally female. I rejoiced over this oversight (in this state you need surgery and a subsequent court order for a legal change on a driver’s license), but quickly felt guilty, anxious, and shameful about “cheating” the system and having “incorrect” documents. I returned to the DMV the following day to alert them of this error but the teller would not change it back without my original birth certificate. I showed her all of the documentation I had yesterday that has that stupid little “F” written all over it but it didn’t matter. I can’t be sure, but I think the teller might have changed it back without today except she was really hung up on the fact that I was born with a “male” middle name. Alas, I now have a driver’s license with a male gender marker until I return with my birth certificate.
I am ecstatic to have one piece of ID that has what I feel to be the correct gender marker, but I still feel anxious about it. This whole process has also made me think about the policies, laws, requirements that dictate gender in this country and why the system is so twisted.
Continued from: When the Letters Don’t Match (Pt 1)
So to continue on this journey…Yesterday I went to the DMV to obtain a new drivers license in my new name. This was also my first time applying for one in this state. To do so, I provided my old drivers license (from another state, gender listed as F), my Passport (from 2005, pre-transition, pre-first thought about anything trans-related, gender listed as F, pretty feminine looking picture and all–pony tail, pink shirt, tank top; my how I’ve changed!), vehicle registration, court ordered name change (again, gender listed as F), and my lease. (I also threw in the social security card and school ID for fun.) The teller made copies of all of these documents and entered my information into the system.
Well, much to my surprise the teller issued a driver’s license with gender listed as male! In HS (homestate), to change your gender on a driver’s license, the information I’ve found indicates that you need proof of surgery. Anecdotally, this means either top and bottom surgery or a strongly worded letter that indicates the individual has had “enough” surgery. Well, I’ve had no surgeries and have no letter so what happened here?
So if you know me well, you know I have luck of a weird kind. Strange things happen to me at various times. In this three-part series I’ll address my experiences in legally changing my name and updating my name on my driver’s license. While this is one experience, and my own, I have a feeling there might be others out there who have encountered similar situations. For me this experience highlights, among other things, the way gender markers, revered as such important pieces of information, say little to nothing about a person.
Last month I applied for a name change in my home state. (We’ll call it HS, short for home state). (I’ll address some general tips on this process in another blog). I submitted my petition, $200+ in clerk fees, and called a few days later for my court date. Much to my surprise my hearing was scheduled for one week later. Whew! I awaited the day with a sense of excitement and dread. I prepared the paperwork alone and would be representing myself. Not uncommon, but a little scary for me. Thankfully I was the last person to be called on during the open docket because the hearing did not go as well as I’d hoped.