What’s In A Name?

Some transgender persons choose to change their name to something that they feel better suits them or is more in line with the gender to which they identify. I was fortunate to have been given fairly unisex first and middle names and I had no desire to change them – other than the spelling. I was told that my maternal grandfather had named me thinking or hoping that I would be a boy. When it was discovered at birth that I appeared to be a girl, they put the female spelling of my name on my birth certificate. I have friends who labor untold hours and weeks and even months over what name they want for their self. My process was easy. I simply legally changed both my first and middle names to the perceived masculine spelling.

I filed the legal name change paperwork in the courthouse in St. Louis County in July 2018. A month later, after standing no more than three minutes in front of a friendly, affirming judge, my legal name finally matched my gender. I made the required posting in the legal section of a local paper and began the process of changing all of my documents to the correct name and gender. I began with my driver’s license, then took that to the bank. I had to wait on a notarized letter from my surgeon explaining that I had, in fact, undergone gender affirmation surgery in order to update my Social Security Card and my Iowa birth certificate. In the State of Iowa records, if you change your gender on your birth certificate they inform you that your original birth records will no longer exist. You are not merely amending your original document; you are replacing it.

For a while it seemed like new accounts or records were popping up every few days that I needed to change. Between passwords and logins on online accounts the list seemed never ending; but, what I was concerned might have been a nightmare part of the process turned out to be one the simplest of all of my transition.

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