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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Safely in my possession

The lawyer's office would have gotten me my name change decree weeks ago, but the office lady had a baby and her backup was away, so ... I called, said I'd love to come by and get it, and it turned out it hadn't even gone back to the court for final signature. There was a flurry of activity, and this past Monday the 18th, I went in at 11:30 in the morning and got my hands on my name for the first time.

The decree had been enacted on the 6th.


But it's safely in my possession now. I am Risa Stephanie Bear forever.

I had to go back to work. But I took part of Tuesday off, and went to:

Social Security Administration. Friendly. Nice. Less than 1/2 hour.

Department of Motor Vehicles (I chose the one in Springfield, a town noted for its rabid anti-LGBT activists; the population is actually very friendly towards me and the DMV office there is the nicest one I know). I got a new driver's license and the picture even came out well! Friendly. Nice. Less than 1/2 hour.

My bank. New checks in two weeks, Floral pattern. Friendly. Nice. Less than 1/2 hour.

Personnel/Payroll at my employer. As they're also where I did all my undergraduate and graduate degrees, the name change was effective on my transcripts immediately. From there I went to the Photo ID office and posed for a new Faculty ID Card. It turned well, also. Friendly. Nice. Less than 1/2 hour.

I've been carrying my cards around all week.

"Have you seen..."

"Yes, you showed them to me yesterday."


"And the day before."


Heh ... sweep hair out of eyes, look away, look back, change subject.


A friend from upstairs admired the pictures dutifully and agreed they were sweet and then showed up the next morning with a basket of dresses she's never worn. They're so me! Turtleneck top, long sleeves, solid color, good material, almost ankle length. Burgundy,, black, green. And a blue denim that's a little small, but I hope to shrink myself to fit.

It turns out that some dozen or so of women from throughout the building are planning a "What Not to Wear" day for me next Saturday, at a local mall. One group will take me to the hairdresser, another, to the makeup specialist, and another, shopping. To be followed by a potluck for all participants. I'm amazed by all the attention but not surprised by the focused and organized approach -- they/we have done as much for others, we're just a fairly close-knit bunch.


I am taking voice lessons this term. It's fun and interesting. The coach is a student, learning to apply her experience as a dramatist, teacher, and singer to her new career choice, voice therapy. Her professor sometimes joins in, sometimes observes unobtrusively. They are wonderful people.

We were doing three-word phrases like "wonderful Irish sausages" or "troublesome jitney oranges" and listing to the playback, and my coach caught me falling into a black hole.

"What's up?"

"I sound like a guy this week. I hate it."

"Well, dear, you will have some habits of speech that will try to stay with you ... but you have your naturally high range, and your musicality. And no one likes their voice played back to them."

"I know, but ... but ..."

"Can you identify the sound that was bothering you there?"

"It's -- it's -- at the ends of the sentences, when it drops. I hear him."

"I don't; but, then, I never knew him. I only know you." she smiled.

At this point I expected to smile back, but burst into tears instead. She reached me the tissues.

Here, these -- we keep them in every room, you know, it's O.K, it's -- oh, now I'm crying, too."

"I'm sorry."

No, it's fine. Better now?"

I had seen an image, in my mind, of myself when I was eight. When I'd promised myself I wasn't going to be a guy. And then the way I had disappeared into the testosterone fog ...

My reply came in a whisper.

"I was trapped in there a long time."

We ended the session with a serious hug.

-- risa


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