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Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Spanish-looking lady

We went to a wedding in our old valley in the Coast Range; it was our first event to which we a) went as a lesbian couple and b) knew less than half the people there. So much time has gone by! The people I did know were so gray and stoop-shouldered. It was like one of those gerontological high school reunions.

We were having a great time; but we left early to go tabling for PFLAG at the Eugene-Springfield Pride Celebration. This was exciting and fun, too; though Beloved got into a bit of a funk when she felt that my dancing was ... too ... ah, well ...

My friend John had his camera there and took a number of candids all day.


I had a splendid meeting with my counselor; toward the end he gave me the letter for the Department of Motor Vehicles. I cried. I mean, I really cried.

"This means so much," I said, redundantly, while reaching for his box of tissues.

We talked about surgery. I had hoped for February, but he feels the Standards of Care require him to have seen me for a year. This would put it back to April. So, as I suspected, the last counselor did lose me a year of my life by screening me out. So sad; so unnecessary.

But he'll talk to some counselors to see if anyone has an opening for "second letter" work. And he did say I could write to Dr. Reed and start an account.

"It's all a formality; I have to do it this way, but, as you can see from the letter you have in your possession, I'm satisfied that you are a woman. So we have made some progress and I don't foresee any difficulties."

Well, April beats the heck out of never.

From his office I drove directly to the DMV. The one in Eugene has a trans-unfriendly reputation; word is they are saying that there is a list of counselors that are approved to write gender letters. But some people called DMV headquarters in Salem and they denied having created such a list. Rather than wrangle with Eugene DMV over whether their list is arbitrary, I headed for the much smaller one in Springfield.

My number was 59. The screen showed 50. I took a seat.

Clerks shouted their availability over the general hubbub and crying babies.

"Fifty-one. Fifty-one."

"Fifty-two. Fifty-two...fifty-three."


"Fifty-five. Fifty-five."


"Fifty-seven. Fifty-seven ... fifty-eight, fifty eight."


I got the youngish brown-haired lady, whom I'd picked out as the most likely easy clerk. I showed her my driver's license and my letter, and briefly explained my mission. She checked both, said, "hang on a bit," and disappeared into the manager's office.

I felt surprisingly calm. If this didn't work, I'd thank her, leave, and try again elsewhere. I could see her through the half-open door, talking earnestly. She nodded, then stood up and walked out of sight deeper into the office.

She reappeared around a wall in front of me. The boss's desk must be in a room with two doors. I could see that she still had the letter, and was placing it on the glass plate of a small office copier. I chose to take this as a good sign.

She came back to the counter.

"Here's your original; we keep a copy for our records. They might ask your counselor for more information, you never know, but this looks good.' She picked up my driver's license, which was all of three months old, and stashed it below the countertop somewhere.

She turned her computer monitor toward me. "Is all this correct?"

"Yes. Well, there's Altanta -- should be spelled A - T - L ,,, "

"Oh, yeah. Lemme fix that." Clickety-click.

She looked at me. "You're wearing contacts?"


"It says here you need both outside mirrors. Is that about your vision?"

"No, I'm seventy percent hearing impaired." I lifted my hair to show my hearing aid.

"You do pretty good."

"That's what they tell me."

"Still a donor?"


She typed a few things and hit Enter.

"They'll call your name and take your picture. That'll be twenty-one dollars, though."

I have never been happier to write a check.

I found her rather deadpan, but if she was thinking "oh, yuckies," I couldn't detect it. There are times when I don't ask for more than that. I thanked her warmly.

While sitting and brushing my hair, I noticed a young man with a long ponytail and a hipful of wallet chains coming back from the camera area. His expression was cherubic and mischievous at the same time. I liked him immediately, though I felt some of the other patrons did not. He caught me looking, and took the seat next to me, easy as you please. I asked how his picture had come out. He made a wry face and said, "OK, I guess." He handed me his new driver's license, still warm from the laminator. We looked at it together, shoulder to shoulder.

"Oh, it's very nice!" I said, and meant it. He beamed.

"Rice-a Stephanie?" called the camera lady.

I hopped up. "Bye!" I said to the young man. Trotting over to the counter, I said, "Ree-sa Stephanie."

"Oh. Well, okay, stand on the mark, put your shoulders on the wall, look right here -- " She indicated a picture, cut from some magazine, of a mop-topped parrot of some kind, mounted just below the camera lens. Cute. I smiled.


A couple of minutes later, I was called back to pick up my new license, still warm. I balanced my new reading glasses on my nose and looked.

The picture was not bad at all. Even good, though I had missed some hair on top of my head with the brush. Happy girl face.

Looks Spanish actually.

Clearly I could use a little FFS, but with prices what they are, I may have to make do with me.

I let my eye travel to the right. There it was.

Sex: F


Stepping into the hot, bright summer sun, I took about ten steps toward my car, and burst into tears (again).

Three years.

Three years of counseling it had taken me to get that little consonant. I slid the license into the little plastic window in my credit-card purse, snapped it shut, got out my hankie and blew my nose, unlocked the car and slid behind the wheel. I opened the credit-card purse, put on my reading glasses again, and studied the whole license, front and back, half afraid it would vanish.

I closed the purse again and looked out the front window of the car at the parade of pedestrians going about their business beyond the parking lot.

"No one," I said, to no one in particular, "no one will ever take this away from me."

And I turned the key in the ignition.

-- risa b


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