Legal Name Change

One of the camp counselors called the other day to give us a few last minute reminders. He wanted to make sure that we send a brown bag lunch (for the bus ride), bug “dope”, some spending money and Olivia’s passport, among other things. ALARM BELLS. He also wanted to let us know that he was looking forward to having Olivia up at camp (ALARM BELLS) and that we should arrive by 6:30 a.m. Monday morning. 

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Of course, he was looking forward to meeting Olivia. Hunter is registered for camp as Olivia. We have not yet changed his name legally. I reminded the youngish sounding counselor that while the name “Olivia” is on all the official forms, she is transgender and prefers male pronouns and goes by Hunter. “Oh, Hunter.” he said with some recognition. Apparently, he had been told about Hunter but did not make the connection between Hunter and Olivia. WHEW. Glad we got that cleared up before the bus on Monday morning.

Recently, we had to send official school transcripts to a doctor’s office. I got this email in response, “Thank you for sending these. However, I think you sent your daughter’s transcripts.”

At first I was confused. Wasn’t I supposed to send the transcripts? Then, it hit me. The transcripts say Olivia. 

It is mortifying (for Hunter) to sit in a doctor’s office waiting room and hear them call, “Olivia, we’re ready for you.”

From what I understand, it is not all that complicated to change one’s name legally…just a bunch of paperwork including filing a petition, a $150 fee and a court appearance. We can get his name changed on the birth certificate as well. And, then there’s social security. Oh, and the passport. It is tricky to travel because the photo on the passport is of Olivia with long “girl” hair. This really is all fairly straightforward. HA.

Do not confuse name change with changing the gender marker. This is a big deal. And, I don’t believe we can do that until sex reassignment surgery takes place or at least “top” surgery. This is where breasts are removed to achieve a masculine chest appearance. This usually doesn’t happen until the age of eighteen.

I have a friend, Sarah*,whose son is also FTM trans, who has already gone through the legal name change with her son. Though her son and Hunter are the same age, they are about 6 months to a year ahead of us. She has been a great resource for me. My friend and I met when we were at the beginning of our journey. I marvelled at how she embraced the process of dealing with a transgender child. Sarah seemed so together. It was really impressive. Her son is her only child and she was determined to do everything under the sun to aid his transition. But, there was something she said to me in that first meeting, our first of many cups of coffee, that stuck with me.

“I would rather have a live son, than a dead daughter.” As an Emergency Medicine physician, she had seen her share of bad stuff…not to mention the above average suicide rate among trans teens. For months that statement reverberated in my head. Sarah put things in perspective for me. I needed that.

So, it is time for a legal name change. It is the least I can do for my son to make his life just a tiny bit better on a daily basis. 

*Not her real name

http://courts.mi.gov/self-help/center/casetype/pages/namechangesh.aspx

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