Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Trying to Avoid Transgender

Over this last weekend I received my economic stimulus check. Which is great, considering this month was looking a little tight, but unfortunately raised a few questions for me. This check was made out to my former name…misspelled. I have lived with my new legal name for almost two years but the Federal Government continually issues me my tax refund to my previous name…misspelled. Short to say this mistake on Uncle Sam’s part is pretty drastic as my birth name automatically outs me as transsexual -it is ridiculously feminine- and the only part of my name that remains unchanged (my last name) is very badly misspelled.

So last night I dug through boxes of my legal documents - carefully filed doctors notes, letters registering me to vote as male, my temporary ID card listing me as male - trying to find my name change documents from Minnesota. I finally found a version that was not notarized but did include the Judge’s signature and date. I have mailed out so many copies of my name-change to credit card companies, former employers (for reference checks), my student loan companies, and my various educational institutes that I apparently have none left. Hoping for the best, and banking on the fact that I had successfully deposited my tax refund (with the same name issue) in April, I decided to bring this not-quite-that-official document with me today as I attempted to deposit it over my lunch break.

Armed with my documents and the check that would out me as transsexual to my bank…I almost chose to act in a way that would out me as ashamed of my identity. I almost walked an extra couple of blocks in order to go to a different bank branch that I’d be unlikely to visit again. In fact, I had already turned down that street when I stopped and thought about what I was doing. I am so ridiculously out in all aspects of my life – my bank in Minnesota, my credit card companies, my college, my friends and family all know that I am a transsexual man. True, the more institutional of these choose to ignore that fact most days, but I have never actively hid my status before except in cases where I feared some form of violent or emotional recrimination. My very job, this blog, and all of my social networking profiles out me every single day…and yet I wanted to hide this fact from a bank teller?

I quickly turned around and went to my usual bank branch where I had to wait about 10 minutes for my teller to consult with her manager before accepting my check. Luckily my name-change form went unquestioned despite the lack of a proper notarization. It was still embarrassing to have to explain my entire history to a relative stranger, but I did feel better that at least I hadn’t tried to hide my history. Even better, the teller told me to “have a good day, sir” as I was leaving. You should have seen my smile.


nixwilliams said...

oh, wow. i know what you mean. just reading this gave me that ... feeling. i am also not stealth in any way, but the thought of having to deal with this stuff is stressful. i'm glad the teller was good in the end.

and i'm glad you emerged unscathed! good work, you!

Ruth said...

I hope you did have a good day, sir. I miss you!