It's legal and official!

Just a couple of weeks ago I got all of my nitty gritty paperwork filed at the court house for my official, legally recognized name and gender change. I was assigned a case number and a judge and a date for my hearing - today!

After learning which judge was appointed to my case, I looked into his history a bit. I learned that he's LDS, a graduate of Brigham Young University, and had no history of any gender change cases.

Admittedly, all of the above made me nervous. But I reassured myself that he is a judge and will hopefully be fair. And everything would work out just fine.

I woke up all giddy and nervous about my big court day. My mom called to let me know that she'd be coming with me to provide moral support. Aww! My dad also called, asking if I'd heard from my mother. I told him that I had, she's on her way to pick me up and that we'd be grabbing coffee before heading to the hearing. He grumbled for a bit, said goodbye, and hung up. That was his way of saying that he's meeting up at coffee and going to the hearing with us.

I combed my hair proper, put on a white button-up, some clean and crisp pants, and hid my septum jewelry up into my nostril nook.

My mom scooped me up from home into her motorized carriage, and off we went to coffee. My pops was already there. Afterwards, we walked down to the court house together. I told them repeatedly how adorable they were for being so supportive. I am incredibly fortunate to have them.

On the way to the court house we made a pit stop by the Salt Lake City and County Building where there's a monument that was donated by the school children of Salt Lake in the 1930s. The original Pledge of Allegiance is inscribed on this monument, pre-McCarthy-era. The boy in the monument is pointing up towards the United States flag:



It's astounding to me, how the words "under God" were added during the Cold War, during the McCarthy Era of anti-atheist and anti-Communist hysteria. The anti-Communist movement was an anti-atheist movement, as McCarthy himself declared when launching his "war": "Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity" (in his famous address on February 9, 1950). Wow.

After basking in the separation of church and state respectful original pledge, we continued on to the court house. Metal detectors. Elevator. Room. Judge. Check, check, and in we went.

Sat down, quietly. We were about twenty minutes early.

I felt instantly relieved that the court room wasn't packed. Three people in the audience total, excluding my parents. After about ten minutes the case taking place was dismissed, and the judge called for the next case. Seeing as they had to wait for some prosecutors for something unrelated, he then announced my case and asked if the attendee was there. I was!

So I stood and he called me up to the podium. I swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, so help me God. Then he thumbed through my file a bit and gave me the choice to relocate to his chambers given the private nature of the case. Since there were only a couple of people in the court room, I opted to keep it in the court. I was impressed about how considerate he immediately was in regards to my privacy, and then he asked, "What are your reasons for the gender and name change you've requested?"

I began, "Your honor..." (I rehearsed!), and proceeded to explain that I am finding it progressively more difficult to function logistically with a gender presentation that doesn't culturally match my legal name and gender. In terms of seeking employment, using my I.D., using my debit card, accessing my bank account, onwards and so forth. I also mentioned that both were more appropriate for my identity, and that I'd feel safer and better with the name and gender change.

None of the above were phrased eloquently in the slightest, as I was beat red with my heart pounding in my chest. I've never been in a court room before and learned today that the court environment is just, terrifying - especially while attempting to explain to a judge why I want a gender and name change.

He immediately granted my name change. He then admitted that this was the first he had dealt with a gender change case. Even though he had the amendment to birth certificate and other required paperwork, he wasn't entirely sure what he was allowed to grant. I knew that he was allowed to grant my gender change but remained silent as he thumbed through the statute. He eventually concluded that he would need to look into the statute further. And if he can grant the gender change, he would do so. He advised me to call the court tomorrow to hear his decision.

He then dismissed me. About thirty minutes later it dawned on me that the fee waiver had never been addressed. Gar! I'm hoping that he will notice the fee waiver paperwork in my file and that when I call tomorrow there will be a decision in regards to that, also.

All and all, my name is now legally changed! Dexter Mel Thomas! Woot woot! Big day for me! And the odds that my gender will be legally changed tomorrow are high, from the looks of it.

It will be incredibly odd to be legally male, because, as I've mentioned before, I honestly don't have a pronoun or gender binary (male/female) preference. Functionally, however, in a society that only recognizes "male" or "female", I am realizing that since I was in the process of getting a name change and a new drivers license anyway, I may as well have the gender change also. This may make it easier to deal with more logistical issues five years from now. And I won't have to go through this grueling process again. All of the eggs in one basket, I say!

I'm going to dedicate an entire day in the near future here to getting my new birth certificate, drivers license reflecting my name/gender change, bank records changed, school records, on and on and on!

6 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! Congratulations Mr. Dexter Mel Thomas.

    I'm sure you did a great job presenting your case to the judge, red face and all. I hope you'll hear the good news about your birth certificate tomorrow.

    That was wonderful your Mom and Dad were with you. You are one lucky dude.

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  2. @Jude: Thank you. And yes, I'm way lucky. I wish it was the default norm. One day, it will be. :]

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  3. Dex, I love it! (I had a Pug named Dexter and the show "Dexter" is one of my favorites) Great choice, it suits ya.

    Congrats, and keep us posted on what you find out today!

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  4. Jesse: Thank you! And yes, I will. I called this morning about his pending decisions in regards to the fee waiver and granting gender change, and the court clerk told me she hasn't seen anything yet, but will ask him later today and will give me a call back. :]

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  5. Yay! Congratulations!

    So, you walked right past me in the Pride parade and I didn't recognize you. I just thought you were some dude until Matt said "hey, isn't that Mel?"

    U r hot.

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  6. Manna: No way! You should've screamed and waved your arms around frantically as you spilled out into the parade to hug me! ;P

    I miss the days when you roller bladed in the parade.

    ReplyDelete

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