My teenage son is transgender. Last year we started the final odyssey to get his name and gender officially changed. Here we are about seven months later still waiting for the final steps. It has truly reached the level of the absurd now and both of us are so frustrated.
We had waited to start the paperwork because we knew that a new law was going into effect in our state that was supposed to make it easier. The law did simplify some of the hoops that had to be jumped through, so in that way, I’m glad we waited. But if we had battled through the more complicated format and extra hoops, we’d likely be done by now.
It started out well enough. We had several sources of information and groups helping us. We filled out the court papers and they were accepted. With the new law, hearings were no longer required. We were told it would take 4 weeks for the papers to be reviewed and if there were no problems, signed by a judge. Things went downhill from there.
Instead of four weeks, it took nine weeks and many phone calls trying to find out why it was not done yet. Everyone we talked to gave a different reason. Finally, we reached someone who said she had no idea why it had not been done, but it should have been done in the four-week time frame. She took the papers and walked them to the judge to be signed that day.
The next step was my mistake. More specifically, I trusted the wrong source. The place we had gotten much of the help on the paperwork said the next step happened automatically and we’d get what we needed in 6 to 8 weeks. Because they had been correct on the court information, I believed them. Turns out, they were wrong.
After waiting 10 weeks because I thought it might just be slow like the court, I started looking around at other sources to see if other people were having these longer than expected waits. Turns out that there was more paperwork that needed to be filled out.
We finally got that paperwork done and began the expected 6 to 8 week wait. We are currently in week 7. Once this part arrives the rest should be fairly easy to change since everything else involves me going into offices and having the information updated right there while I wait.
The whole thing has been an exercise in frustration. I have three pieces of advice.
Double Check Your Information
I am so angry with myself for not looking at other sources to see that the information from the main source that I was using was incorrect. We wasted over two months because of that.
Use multiple sources of information. If different sources say different things, ask questions. If you are dealing with the government, different people are going to tell you different things. Some of them will be wrong. In our case, at the courthouse, 4 of them were wrong. Everyone had an excuse for why it was taking so long, but all said it would probably be done the following week when the judge was signing papers. The final person was correct in that she said she didn’t know why it had not been done yet. She told the truth and, more importantly, she took responsibility for it and walked the papers to a judge to be signed. I’m so grateful for that woman.
I wish I had known to ask better questions. If something isn’t happening on time, ask specific questions on why not. They may not know why not, but eventually you may get a person who will help you.
Several times during the time we were waiting with the wrong information, I had gone to an office where I was supposed to be able to access the new papers. Each time they were not ready and it never occurred to me to ask the people there if there was a reason why. Because it was within the expected time frame, I just assumed it was not done yet. If I had asked any one of the people in that office if that step was automatic, I may have been directed to the correct information and we might not still be waiting now.
Advice steps 3 through 1000 are to have patience. I don’t know who screwed up at the court, but it was not any of the people I spoke with on the phone. It was not their fault things were delayed, so there was no reason to be rude to them. Same thing at the office we checked into.
I did inform the source that had given me the wrong information. The incorrect information is still on their website. That is also frustrating, but the best I can do is make sure that others in the same situation know what they are supposed to do. I make sure my son tells the people he knows who will be going through the process to not miss that step.
My son is stuck right now because there are things he cannot do until the official change comes through.
Deep cleansing breaths. It will all get done eventually and soon after it is finished, I will forget the frustration that is making me grind my teeth these days.