Congratulations. She’s a Girl!
and now it’s official!
At 9:03 on February 24th, 2017, I was eating breakfast as I watched the news. My kids had left for school an hour earlier. My partner, Pauline, was in the hospital after having her gall bladder removed the night before after being in excruciating pain for a week. Today, she was still in a lot of pain and would not be coming home. After I had finished breakfast, I was going to visit her. My second cup of tea was heating as I read my emails and updated my schedule for upcoming meetings. I also added the reminders of the things I had to do, one of which was getting my daughter’s TB test read when she got home. She needed it for camp. That’s when I saw the entry in my Google calendar entitled ‘Name Change’ at 11:30 that morning.
“That’s not today,” I thought. I was sure it was on the 27th. Pauline and I split the tasks that we needed to perform for school, camp, and doctor’s appointments. Pauline had taken on the job of getting all the documents we needed for our daughter’s name change. On December 12, 2016, she filed the paperwork with the court. When she got home that day, Pauline told me the court date, and I posted it in my calendar.
Now I hoped I had entered the appointment incorrectly as I scurried around looking for the paperwork. The labeled green folder was on top of the desk. The appointment was today. I felt light-headed and confused. Pauline would not be able to go and I had already sent my daughter to school. I wasn’t sure if we all had to be there. I panicked, grabbed the folder and ran out the door.
In the car, I came up with a lame strategy. At the very least, I wanted to get a written excuse for Pauline not showing up. I had two hours to get to the court and knew not to expect a letter from the hospital. Of course, the hospital parking situation was impossible, but I found one of the last spots. I raced up to Pauline’s room.
I gave her a kiss and asked, “How are you feeling?”
“Tired. I didn’t sleep well.” She showed me her bandages and we talked about the surgery.
Finally, I said “Today is the name change. Do we all need to be there?”
She had also forgotten. “I don’t know. How did I not remember?”
“You’ve been in pain all week,” I said. “I’m going to the court and would like to take a letter with me and say you’re in the hospital just in case.”
Pauline asked the nurse for a letter and some medicine for pain.
I looked up at the clock. It was 10:10. The nurse returned with Pauline’s medication and said the letter would take a while. We decided the hospital wouldn’t get us a letter in time. I wrote o note on a piece of notebook paper. Pauline signed it. I had an hour to get to the court building. Neither my daughter nor Pauline was with me. It would have been nice to be going together on this auspicious occasion.
The courthouse wasn’t very far. I walked into the courtroom before 11. I sat down next to one of the court officials and told him my situation.
“You’re early,” he said. “The judge will talk to you. I wouldn’t worry.”
People began to enter the courtroom. Some of them were by themselves, but most of them were families. This session was solely for name changes.
At 11:25 the judge entered the room with a large stack of folders, sat down and started calling out names. More than half the people weren’t there, but for those that were, almost everyone walked out with a signed order and a new name. The judge smiled and sometimes joked with each person. Everyone was there for a happy occasion. Twenty-five minutes later, he called my daughter’s name.
“I’m here to represent my daughter,” I said.
“Are you Pauline?” the judge asked.
“No, I’m her other mother,” I said. “Pauline is in the hospital and I sent my daughter to school before I remembered she should be here.”
“You forgot?” The judge asked with a smile. “The order has been signed. Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” I said with a sigh of relief and a tinge of sadness.
We had waited almost seven years. But finally, my daughter was legally a girl. This was her second name change. When we adopted Thomas at three and a half years old, we changed his middle and last name. At nine, Thomas was beginning his transition from male to female. We started calling him Tammy and using the female pronoun. Now her first name was legally changed from Thomas to Tammy and she could check the box on forms that said Female.
The clerk called my name and I followed him outside. He handed me the signed order and gave me a hug as my eyes teared. I walked out of the courthouse and called Pauline to tell her the good news. She was relieved and disappointed that she and Tammy weren’t there.
When Tammy got home, I showed her the order that identified her as a girl. When I asked her if she was sad she didn’t get to go to court; she said no. She was thrilled to be a girl officially.
We got in the car to get her TB test read at the same clinic she had been going to for 14 years. The same doctors, nurses, and staff had been treating her the whole time.
Dana called out to us when we walked in. “What do you need today, Tammy?”
“We’re on our way to the lab,” I said as we walked over to her desk. “Take a look at this,” I said, showing her the name change order.
She got up, held out her hand and high-fived my daughter. “Let me take a copy of this for our records so we can legally change her name in our system. I bring you your original in the lab.”
One of the nurses, Lupe, was the next to greet us. “You guys going to the lab? Just knock on the door.” She proceeded to walk us into the lab and find a nurse to read the TB test. All the nurses and technicians in the lab commented how beautiful and tall Tammy had gotten. At 5’11” they all agreed she should become a model.
While we were waiting, Dana came in with the form. Everyone congratulated Tammy as she stood there feeling awkward by all the attention. I looked around the room. We seldom needed to come to the clinic, but the people here, who were open to everything and come from diverse backgrounds, had been in our lives ever since Pauline and I adopted our children.
The social and political climates for the Transgender community are regressing due to irrational fears and prejudices. The previous day, the new Anti-Transgender policy, the one that rescinds rules on bathrooms for transgender students, was enacted. We are lucky that our friends and family support us wholeheartedly. And how fortunate my family is to be a part of such an open and accepting community.
This was Tammy’s next logical next step in her transition process. We will never again wonder what box to check. The Alameda County Superior Court, has determined that Tammy is now legally female and that her “gender marker” will also always be female.
Tammy is no longer a transgender girl. She is now a girl.
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