Step 1: "Obtain certification that your name is not listed on Utah's Sex Offender Registry." - check!, and then on to:
Step 2: "Complete the appropriate forms." - as in, the Petition for Name Change, the Cover Sheet, Application and Affidavit for Waiver of Court Filing Fees.
Then I take a huge pile of forms down to the court and file my case. And then attend a hearing.
I'm basically using these two resources to navigate this confusing and foreign process:
- First, a local trans woman wrote this in 2007 about her experience with having her name changed. Back then it wasn't $350, though. It was even more expensive.
- Also, the Utah State Courts have a pretty easy-to-follow step-by-step guide on their site.
After a lot of back-and-forth, I'm strongly considering also having my gender legally changed. I'm pretty sure that I want to, but I have been in conflict about this since I began transitioning. Since I don't believe that there are only two genders and "female" or "male" legally are synonymous in regards to my own gender identity, I haven't changed it. One just seems to take more effort than the other - i.e. paying a bunch of money to a court, standing in lines, having a hearing with a judge, then having everything else changed like my bank account, school documents, etc.
The thing is, if I do it with my name change, then I have to go through all of the above anyway. But after years of living very blatantly gender non-conforming, at first I felt ashamed and confused about it - but, over the years, I ended up owning who I was and feeling proud. As I posted before,
The first step was to say, "I will not hide any longer." And that was a huge step. I will not hide. I will be who I am and I won't let anyone else decide that for me. I'm the one who has to live in this body for pete's sake, not them. And I can face my own reflection knowing I'm not alone, knowing that others have trod a similar path. Knowing that my family loves and supports me. Knowing that my friends do, too. And knowing that, by not hiding, it demystifies being trans and, hopefully, chips away at the fear surrounding it, too.And -that- is the most difficult part about deciding to change my gender to "male". In a way, it feels like a cloak of invisibility where I will transition and fade into the presumably cisgender white male fold even though that's not my experience, or how I feel or identify. I'm still the same me I've always been just, ... a little hairier, smellier, and whole.
But, I'm losing my visible gender non-conformity bit by bit and entering a whole new social arena with foreign experiences galore. Especially logistically. Just using my I.D., for example, is becoming increasingly complicated, which it wasn't prior to hormone therapy.
There are also occasional situations, like last night when I was in my second-to-last driving school class alongside about 20 strangers. All of whom were silently sitting in a tiny room while a few of us waited in line to speak to the instructor. The instructor refers to me as "young man" and in all masculine pronouns. Yet, on my learners permit and my I.D., the gender marker is "F". I couldn't help but feel a knot of phobia about if he noticed the "F" there or not standing up there in front of all of those people. I have no idea how he'd react. I imagined him going through a confused loop of sorts where I'd end up having to openly explain that I'm trans in order to get him to accept my permit.
99% of the time I'd be fine with this because I'm open about being transgender and it's an educational experience - but then, in a circumstance like that where I'm standing in a silent, tiny room of about 20 strangers who are all listening - I end up feeling phobic and uncomfortable. Unlike being visibly gender non-conforming, I fear that having a concealable stigmatized identity now will spur dangerous reactions from people. Especially leaving the class late at night, alone.
Socially, I think about the fact that prior to hormone therapy I had no choice but to be "out" at all times. But, being "out", visibly and navigating around in primarily female-dominated spaces didn't cause me to fear potential physical repercussions (but some times I would, particularly when I was perceived as a gay male and targeted as such). Women would call security if I was in the restroom or cover themselves in the locker room, but I was fairly confident that I wouldn't be assaulted. But now, I've entered this ball park where I'm in cisgender male-only spaces, alongside individuals who may react violently to something that causes them discomfort "upon discovery". I don't feel comfortable making such a generalized statement, but - there's a reality to it. Transgender people are frequent targets of violence and even outright murder. I feel more physically guarded and prone to attack than I ever have in my entire life.
I assume that most of the time I will be safe and everything will be fine. Just logistically, I am frustrated that it's becoming more of an obstacle to just do something simple like show my I.D. along with my debit card. I can imagine numerous scenarios where this will be a problem, even though it shouldn't be. A part of me wants to face these obstacles head on. Socially, I could overcome it. But functionally, just trying to find a job or other essential life basics is becoming more difficult.
So yes, tossing the idea back and forth. Since I'm about to get a drivers license, I know that right now is an ideal and convenient time to get my name changed. And I may need to throw a gender change into the mix.