Friday, October 1, 2010

Legal Name and Gender Change

"I don't need to prove myself;
I just need to be myself.
It doesn't show what I'm trying to be;
It just shows who I am."
 -- Anthrax, Packaged Rebellion

Old news to most people, but I changed my legal name and gender marker! W00T!

The initial process involved $350, a lot of forms, letters from my therapist and doctor, two court hearings, and visits to Vital Records, the Social Security offices, and the Driver's License division, but it has definitely been worth it. My awesome new legal name is Vivienne, and I've spent the last couple of weeks calling and/or visiting various institutions to get them to update it.

For some businesses, this is super easy. For example my gas and power companies simply verified some information over the phone, then made the change.

For other businesses, it's like pulling teeth. First off, many businesses assume a "name change" for a female-sounding person automatically means I've only changed my last name, due to a marriage. I have to get used to saying "I've changed my full legal name, first and last", and even that doesn't always do the trick. They start acting like it's a very strange and suspicious request, and sometimes bombard me with questions about why I changed it. Normally I'm such an open person that this wouldn't be a problem, but when they're such assholes about it, I get defensive as a matter of principle (and to be honest, it's none of their business).

Yesterday, I called my health insurance company. They're one of the last major businesses I have to call, because I wanted to make sure it was updated with my work first. After asking me to verify the information on the account I've had with them for a couple of years now, I had this fun conversation:

Rep: "How can I help you?"
Me: "My name has changed, and I need to make sure that's updated in your system."
"Ok, and is this Davin?"
"Well, that's not my name anymore."
"Ok, who am I speaking with then?"
"I'm the same person, I'm just not called 'Davin'."
"Oh... Can I put you on hold?"
*irritating hold music for a minute or two*
"Ok, Davin?"
"Are you there? I've got Eileen from somethingsomething services on the line."
Eileen: "What can we do for you?"
"Well, my name is no longer Davin."
"Ok, what is your name?"
"Vivienne (my last name)."
"...Ok, I'm confused... is Davin your husband?"
"No. My name has changed from Davin to Vivienne."
"Ok, so you're the policy holder?"
"Ok, and you're new to eBay?"
"No, I've been with them for a few years."
"Ok... so you're just getting insurance for the first time?"
"Nope. I've been with you for a few years, too." (Aren't you looking at my account?!)

In the end, I had to call eBay HR to have them to push the info over. Fortunately the HR rep was much more reasonable and understanding, or I probably would've had an aneurysm. =P

I'm sure I'll be finding the old name in unexpected places for years, but in the mean time, it's great not having to worry about people giving me weird looks or claiming I'm not me when they check my ID. It's also really comforting to be called "Ms/Mrs" by strangers over the phone. I still sign the old name out of habit at least once a day, but I'm slowly getting used to it. =)

At this point, I've got a new birth certificate, social security card, driver's license, work badge, and bank card.

Shiny new birth certificate

And driver's license

Now I just have to figure out the most painless way to convince people that Erin and I really are two females legally married in the state of Utah. ><


  1. When you figure that last bit out let me know :)

  2. A lot of the time, companies fear full name changes because of potential fraud, which may be why they were so suspicious or difficult to work with. In the example you provided above, however, I'm sure it's clear that the gender change made it difficult for poeple who weren't exactly thinkin' outside the box. This sorta thing is still new for a lot of people, after all. =)

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  4. Bri - Dangit, I was hoping to ask you! =P

    Acharidel - They are of course worried about fraud and confused by the gender change, but neither should excuse a business to treat its long-time customers like crap. The above example was just them being annoyingly confused, but some companies have been downright rude about it. =/

    Dex - Thank you! I couldn't have done it without you and Bri... Well, it would have been a lot scarier and taken a lot longer at least. ;)

    Jerica - I can imagine. =/ Good work on correcting them, though. It's all too easy to let the little things slide, and then internalize the frustration, at least from my experience. Also, thanks muchly. =)