Yes, she's strange and different...but not THAT different.

27 December 2010

What can go rong?

I recently posted the steps I took to change my identification paperwork here in Texas. It was a fairly straightforward process, but that doesn't mean that it's not without its pitfalls. Here are some of the things that I learned while changing mine.

In general, I was not initially prepared to sit. and wait. and sit some more. and wait. and wait. There's a lot of nothing to do - court, government offices, etc. - so be ready for it. Use the restroom before starting your wait, just so you don't have to leave. You can't eat or drink in most waiting areas, so don't count on that distraction. And all government buildings are non-smoking facilities. In most courtrooms, you are not allowed to read or do much of anything besides just sit and wait. Cell phones are not allowed to be used at all in court, although you can sometimes sneak it in. However, phones MUST be silent.

COPY EVERYTHING YOU SEND IN OR TURN IN OR THAT'S GIVEN TO YOU! Then bring copies of all your paperwork with you regardless of where you're going or what you're doing. It's not a lot of paper to carry around and you never know when you might need something.

Cash is king! I found it easier to just get the money I needed rather than worry about whether a given facility takes plastic or checks or money orders. Plus, oftentimes the credit card or check you have to use is in the name you're trying to change. Avoid the confusion. Find out in advance how much you'll need for a given transaction and then get that amount, plus a little extra, in cash from the bank. Do I need to tell you to make sure you get a receipt? Didn't think so.

Changing my name was easy. Changing gender, not so much. I had to go to court several times to get my gender changed. Texas law says you have to go to court in the county where you live, although there are ways to get around this. I don't know how to do that because I didn't have to do that. However, because I live in two different counties (Travis during the week, Fort Bend on weekends), I could go to two different courts, and I did - once in Fort Bend and twice in Travis. The judge in Fort Bend County, who had granted me my name change earlier, told me that he didn't think he had the authority to change my gender identifier when I returned to his court, so he refused my petition. After talking with the court clerk in Austin who had volunteered to assist with gender changes (HI SYLVA!), I then refiled an updated petition in Travis County, to the tune of another 250 bucks. The first judge there said that he didn't like some of the wording in my petition, but rather than refuse it, he simply took no action and told me to come back with an amended petition. I found out after my court appearance that the session I was in was that judge's final one in court; he had been voted out of office. But I updated my petition like he wanted and went back to court yet again. The third judge (in Travis county) was very nice, looked over my petition and wished me luck after signing the gender change order. If I could have kissed her, I would have! So, be aware that judges are human and are therefore all different and may not all be ready to immediately grant a gender change petition.

Official documentation is one thing, but we carry a bunch of other documentation with us, also - specifically, credit and bank cards. We also probably have other accounts (bank, grocery, frequent flyer, insurance, utilities, etc.). All of those will have to be updated to your new name and gender, too, and that can be a tedious process. I recommend making a list of every account you have with all of the pertinent information for each, such as your account number and name on the account. If there is an email or snail mail address to send account changes to, put that on your list. Then create a form letter to send to each account detailing as simply as possible that you have changed your gender and name, listing both, and requesting that your account be updated accordingly. Include your account number and the name currently on the account, as well as the court orders supporting the requested changes and your current contact information. Some places will make the change without any hassle, some will come back and ask more questions. Be patient with all of them. I actually had to go in in person to get my bank acounts and electric bill changed over. If you DO have to go in, take ALL your change paperwork with you, just in case.

Finally, don't count on getting your actual documentation immediately. The federal government actually came through the fastest with my passport and Social Security card in a couple of weeks. Maybe I was just lucky and got in during a slow spot. The state was fairly quick with my voter registration card but took almost 7 weeks to get my driver's license to me. Your actual mileage may vary.

  • On 7/19/2012 4:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Was SRS surgery required for the court ordered gender change? Have you used that gender change order to change your birth certificate?

  • On 2/01/2013 4:39 PM, Blogger Jami said…

    SRS is NOT required for any of the changes I detailed. There's no anatomy check. However, changing your birth certificate in Texas is a MAJOR big deal. In fact, the gender change order specifically states that it CANNOT be used to change the birth certificate.

    I don't know about you, but since I turned 14 (when I used it to get my first driver's license) I've never had to show my birth certificate as ID. Driver's license and passport are almost universally used for ID, and both of them can be changed following the steps I detailed.

  • On 2/22/2013 4:33 AM, Blogger ali naqvi said…

    Great post...its helping and interesting work....thanks for sharing..!!
    Plastic cards


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