When You’re Forced to out Yourself as Transgender
By Mila Madison
There is nothing quite as mortifying as having to “out” yourself in order to get through a difficult circumstance. Maybe it happens when your company’s IT department won’t let you reset a password without the approval of your former self. It is the reason many of us are afraid to go to see a doctor. We often avoid situations where this scenario may arise. There are so many small circumstances that affect us in this way. In them, we face issues where most cisgender people don’t have to think twice about it.
My first time was when I got my new birth certificate. I had jumped through all the hoops while dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s. I had my letter from a doctor stating that biologically I was more female than male. I filled out all the forms and mailed them up to the State’s Department of Vital Records along with the letter from the doctor. Luckily I spoke with a nice man named Guy over there who gave me a list of all the things I needed to update my name and gender on my birth certificate. He was even so kind as to send me an email when it had arrived at my town registrar’s office.
“FINALLY I WOULD RIGHT A WRONG IN MY LIFE. I WAS EXCITED AND COULD NOT WAIT TO SEE MY NEW NAME, AND FINALLY THE CORRECT GENDER, ON MY BIRTH RECORD.”
I was elated to say the least. I hopped in the car to drive over an hour to get to the registrar’s office where my new birth certificate was supposed to be waiting for me. I could not wait to feel that sense of validation. Finally I would right a wrong in my life. I was excited and could not wait to see my new name, and finally the correct gender, on my birth record. Of course it wouldn’t be so easy.
The Registrar’s office happened to be packed that day. I waited in line and finally it was my turn. I went to the Registrar’s desk and proudly said, “I am here to pick up my birth certificate!” The woman at the desk could not find it. Assuming it may be held under my old name, the Registrar asked me what my maiden name was. Suddenly the panic began to set in. I started to stutter in front of what now seemed to be an entire office of people staring. The Registrar assumed I had just been married as that was usually the reason why a woman would go there to get new documents. “No the last name is the same,” I said while taking no solace in the fact that I must have been passing very well. Confused, the woman asked, “So your first name was changed?” Not knowing what to say and not able to think straight I began to lose it. “I don’t understand,” she said. The tears were rolling down my face as I reached into my purse, pulled out my old license and dropped it on her desk. “Does this help you?” I said, all while uncontrollably balling.
The woman looked down at my license and began to cry as well. She grabbed me by the hand and quickly whisked me away into a back office. Now a bit uncontrollable herself, she apologized saying she had no idea. She also said that being the Registrar, they did this type of thing all the time. After sharing a good cry together, she was able to track down my birth certificate and it appeared the nice man Guy had sent it to the wrong office. She told me she would get it and took down my phone number. She would call to check in with me every day until it arrived. A few days later it was in my hands and I was elated.
When you are transgender, sometimes the simplest things become complicated. For me I had to essentially out myself with every government document I had changed. Getting my new driver’s license, social security card and yes my birth certificate all seemed like battles where I had to claw my way through them. None of them went smoothly. In each instance I was forced to out myself.
“SOMETIMES I JUST WANT TO BLEND IN. SOMETIMES I JUST WANT TO EXPERIENCE LIFE THE SAME AS ANY OTHER WOMAN.”
Now it is no secret that I am out for everyone to see. However there are times when I just don’t want to be known as transgender. Sometimes I just want to blend in. Sometimes I just want to experience life the same as any other woman. But I do realize I have it better than many of my brothers and sisters out there. At least I live in a state where changing your birth certificate is even possible. Many are not afforded the same luxury. So if you are at the beginning of your transition, prepare yourself for these moments as they will happen. In the end it is still worth it.
Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!
Love and peace,