Today was a big day for me. About a month ago I gathered up my courage and went to the local court house to apply for a legal name change and about a week ago I received 5 exact copies of the same court order complete with judges signature and county gold seal attached verifying that my name now has been changed legally. That was a pretty cool moment to open that envelope. The next step was to go to the Social Security Administration and apply for a new card with my new name on it so today I made a trip up to the closest SSA office to put in my application with them. Everyone always warns you that you’ll spend all day waiting around the SSA office and that it’s a big pain in the butt and I know this to be true from first hand experience in the past. But today there was one woman in front of me in line. I couldn’t believe it. Usually, I’m told, there is a line out the door but not today. It must’ve been my day! Anyway, when I walked in there a big mean looking security guard greeted me, “Good morning sir. You can’t bring in that bottle of water.” Great, so I had to take my water back to my hot car to turn into boiling water as the day wore on. No problem, I’ll just make tea later. So we have to stand there in line by the guard who doesn’t talk to us but keeps his hand near the gun on his belt just in case one of us gets out of line. Other people come in after me and another fellow is told he can’t bring in his coffee so he leaves and comes right back too. It appears they only have one window open to assist people and there are a few in the waiting area already who’ve made it past Officer Opie. None of us understand why we’re waiting but we’re sort of afraid to ask. Eventually the guard leaves for a few minutes to do something we presume is more important than guarding us and we all start chatting. It’s pretty entertaining actually. The guard comes back and we quit talking again. Finally they open another window and the lady in front of me gets called to come up, so now I’m first in line. She’s sent to sit in the waiting area and listen for her number and it’s my turn at the window. I go up and tell the lady I’m there to change my name and she asks me if it’s because of a divorce. Why she assumed that I can only guess. I said, no, it’s a court order name change. She gives me a number and tells me to take a seat. I took my kindle with me for entertainment, expecting a long wait. I had just downloaded middleagebutch’s new book “Leaving Normal” and sat down to read some of it. I don’t think I finished two pages and they called my number to go to “window 10”. Window 10 is the last window at the far end of the building and there was a nice gentleman sitting behind the window there at window 10. I told him why I was there and handed him all of my paper work including one of the five copies of the court order with the fancy gold seal attached to it as well as my current driver’s license. All went well and he painstakingly tapped all of my information using two fingers on his keyboard. I found his typing skills curious but they seemed to work for him. He informed me that the driver’s license people are hooked into their system but it takes 24 hours for SSA to update their data and he suggested I call the DMV before going over there to make sure they have the new name in their system. No problem. I had already checked their website and they had recommended giving them 48 hours to get your information in their system from SSA after a name change. So it all went great and I was done. And as he handed me my receipt he said you’re all done sir but I do have a question for you. I felt my throat tighten up and my gut started to feel sick. Here it comes, he’s going to ask me about my gender. And yep, I was right. He wanted to know if calling me sir was appropriate and explained that all of this was very new for them and he just wanted to make sure that he had done ok with me. I told him I hadn’t come there to change my gender marker and that I’m just letting people call me whatever they see these days. I hadn’t gone in there to out myself as trans but whether I wanted to or not I was out. He had read me as trans and was curious in a very polite and genuine way. I was touched by his honesty and sensitivity to the situation. We chatted for a few minutes about pronouns and such. I could tell that me telling him that I didn’t care one way or another only made him feel more anxious about any future encounters with trans folks so I finally said, well, I really don’t like being called ma’am so sir is good with me. He smiled and said, so I got it right after all. I said, yep, you did great. I stood up and shook his hand and thanked him for helping me out. I left the building feeling great about the exchange and excited about getting a new Social Security card and driver’s license soon with my new name on it. It will take about two weeks for it to come in the mail.
So today almost feels a little like my birthday. My new birthday. Shawn was legally born today and soon will have papers to prove it. I went home and drank a toast to the new me and thanked the old me for getting me to this place and point in time. It’s hard to put into words how I feel exactly. I feel excited and triumphant in a way I can’t quite describe. I own myself in a way I’ve never felt before. I’m in the driver’s seat of my life and defining myself. I’m chipping away and shedding the parts that don’t belong to me and keeping the pieces that do while adopting the parts that I’ve been needing to make myself whole. It’s a good day indeed.