Monumental Week

I just finished up one of the craziest and maybe most important weeks in my life.

On Monday, after months of dealing with the insurance company and other nonsense, I finally started on HRT. It’ll take a few weeks until I can feel the effects, but the process has begun. 🙂

That was harder than it should have been because of mistakes made by my insurance company, but it’s all straightened out now. I’m reaping the benefits of moving to San Francisco on this, because I’m seeing a transsexual specialist now. Instead of hearing “you want WHAT??” from my doctor I heard “Oh, neat. Let me give you a referral to Dr. Julie,” and that was that. Phew.

I keep looking at the pill bottles… it’s hard to believe it’s my name on them, but it is. I’m very happy and excited and nervous all at the same time.

Tuesday and Wednesday were just normal days.

Thursday I went to the salon to get my hair done up nicely for Friday. 🙂 I love doing that.

Then came Friday. I took Friday off of work.

I got dressed up very nicely. I had on a very pretty blue skirt and a white blouse with blue flowers and butterflies on it. I also had on a cute rabbit necklace and my hair was still looking good from the day before.

At 9:30am I was in the Department 31 courtroom of the Alameda County court to get my legal name changed. They had some other business to attend to, but at 10:44am on March 28th, 2014 the Judge looked at me and said “Congratulations, you’re all set,” and then signed the order. The part I was dreading the most, going back to the main courthouse to get my certified copies of the order, didn’t even happen. They have a special clerk set up right there to handle things like this on the spot. I paid for six copies (at $25 each, ick) and happily walked out the door a new person. 🙂

From there I went over to the Social Security Administration to get their computer records updated. That was super easy, but took over two hours waiting in line. I had gone to their website the day before and gotten the form I needed and filled it out on the computer and printed it out. When it was finally my turn to see a clerk I handed her the court order and that form, and that was it. It was pretty painless, other than having to wait on a hard metal bench in downtown Oakland for over two hours.

Then, after that, I got into my car and drove 20 miles to a DMV out in the middle of an upscale part of the Bay Area. This is a trick I learned back in Ohio… generally the lines there are shorter, and the crowd doesn’t act like waiting in line in the worse thing in the world. (Which was true, the people around me were very pleasant! They were like “yeah, I hate waiting in line, but oh well.”)

After waiting almost two hours there (but this time on a comfy plastic seat rather than a hard metal bench) things started out okay, but then got kinda weird at the end.

When I got to the counter I laughed and told the lady that was working with me “sorry, this is gonna be complex” and handed her the form to get a new driver’s license, my court order changing my name, and the form my doctor filled out to let me get my gender set to female. She looked at the gender form and said “what is this? Where did you get it?” I replied “The DMV website about a week ago.” She’d seen the one for the complete status before, but not the transitional one. She ended up doing the right thing… she got out the manual and looked up that form and was like “oh!” and knew exactly what to do at that point. So in the end that was no big deal.

Then problems started.

Because it was getting late in the day, she sent me to go take my written test while she did the final paperwork. I handed her my old Texas driver’s license and all my paperwork and went to take my test. I finished the test fairly quickly (there were 36 questions on it, over half of which were on the practice exams on their website, so I knew what the correct answer was straight away) and scored really well. I got 35 of the 36 right.

They hand me back my paperwork, and my Texas driver’s license, only my Texas license had now been invalided. (As they’re suppose to do.) All they really do is punch a big hole in it, but it’s a sign to a cop that it’s no longer good. I knew this was coming, and frankly, I didn’t care, because the person on that ID no longer exists legally.

CA doesn’t issue licenses on the spot, they mail them to you 2-3 weeks later, just like how Texas does. When they went to issue me my temp license, the computer wouldn’t do it. It appears there’s a lag between when the SSA database and the DMV’s database sync up. Since the names didn’t match, the SSA check was failing, and the computer was kicking it out.

They were like “come back in 72 hours” and I was like “How? I don’t have a driver’s license anymore. You just invalided my Texas one.”

Things got pretty bad for me that this point. As they kept calling over supervisor after supervisor to try to “fix” it they kept saying things like “I can’t get his license to print.” I don’t handle this sort of thing well. I don’t get mad, I just shut down. My brain kinda goes into off mode when someone keeps doing that. The lady would say “his .. HER” license, at least, but the man they called over got it wrong over and over again and even called me by my old name once. (He corrected himself on that one.)

In the end it worked out okay. Finally it got escalated up to the person that runs the DMV. She took down all my information and said she’d put it into the computer herself on Tuesday morning and there’s no reason I needed to come back. They went into the back and came out with a pad of temp licenses and hand-wrote me a temp license rather than use the computer. It looks exactly like the one I got back in the 90s when I was 16. It doesn’t say “female” on it anywhere, but it has my correct name, so I’m happy.

I made things worse on myself by not eating or drinking anything for roughly 12 hours. I was just really worn out by the time we’d gotten there, so what would normally just roll off my back (a DMV employee being disrespectful? Ohhh, big surprise!) really got to me. I mean, it was 4:55pm on a holiday weekend. They just wanted to get out of there.

But in the end it was all fine. In two or three weeks when I get my new driver’s license in the mail with my new name and correct gender marker I’ll be very happy and most likely forget this whole thing even happened. 🙂

What a crazy week. I started it as a “boy” with my old name and testosterone in my system and I finished it a girl with a new name and estrogen in my system.

Back when I worked in IT I dreaded it when girls came in wanting their name changed. They’d always be like “now. nownownownownownow.” Guess what I get to be on Monday? 🙂

Big Giant Update!

Wow! Okays, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything down, so I figured I might as well tonight.

Life in Not-So-Sunny San Francisco

I’m still adjusting to being in the Bay Area. The cost of living here is really rough. I almost feel like I’m living paycheck to paycheck (I’m actually not, it just feels that way), which is a change. I need to buy a plane ticket in April for RCFM, and then once in June for MFM, and at this point, I’m not sure where the money is going to come from. (Not to mention the hotel bills. Ick.)

Thankfully there are nice tools like Mint out there that easily let me see the big picture. While I did take on some debt when I moved, overall, my debt is still going down. I’m almost to the half way point paying off my car. Once I get there things will get a heck of a lot easier as suddenly the cash flow numbers work out in my favor.

I don’t use credit unless I have to. I let my checking account get pretty low near the end of a pay period, but it’s because I refuse to use credit for everyday expenses. I would rather go without than do that. I buy things online with a credit card, but then pay it at the end of the month.

Other than getting used to the cost of living things are going okay! I’m loving commuting via ferry. We had a big storm this week and I got caught out in it and had to walk about a mile in rain that was coming down so hard it was sideways. When I finally got on the ferry they came on the speakers and told us to sit down because it was going to be a rough ride, and it sure as heck was. I’d never been on a boat ride like that… I’m glad I don’t get sea sick.

Since I commute via ferry I only fill up my car with fuel about once a month. In Texas I was doing it about once a week or so, sometimes more. I have a TDI Golf which runs on diesel and not gas, so it costs me $50-55 a fillup. I’m not doing that very often now, but I am having to pay about $50 a week in ferry costs, so it all evens out, thankfully.

I’ve been on call a lot at work lately which has kept me from doing a lot of exploring. I’ve been shadowing the on call for the last few weeks, and it’s been great training. My first on call for real is in a few weeks, and while I’m not super ready, I’m not scared, either. I’ll survive, I just feel sorry for the person that’s backing me up. 🙂

New Job Stuffs

Speaking of job stuffs, things are going very well!

They tell me I’m getting up to speed very quickly. It’s been just over three months and I feel like I’m doing okay, but I still get left in the dark at times. We’re in the middle of a giant project right now (we’re moving a data center, with a pretty good financial hit if we don’t make it out on time), and I’m doing my part by doing what I call “running interference” and jumping in and answering questions when people outside my team have them. It’s good practice for me anyhow – if I don’t know the answer I can go look it up or figure it out. Since I’m purposely putting myself on the front lines the other members of my team are able to focus much better.

Our primary means of communication at work is IRC. I enjoy my job so much that I actually log into IRC even when I’m not “at work” just so I can see what’s going on. This is SUCH a change from my last job… at the end of the day I’d just walk out of the building and not want to have to think about work again until the following morning.

I was so burned out at the last place that I was pondering changing careers. What I learned about myself is that I’m just not cut out for life in a large enterprise. There were more people on the eCommerce team at NI than there are in the entire company where I work now! We all know each other and since there aren’t all of the silos we’re able to actually get things done.

Turns out I actually do still love working in tech, I just needed to get back into an environment where I could actually work on tech things and not always have to deal with politics.

I was one of the top system engineers in IT at my last gig, but not so here. I’m just in the middle of the pack now. I work with a few folks that blow me out of the water in terms of raw tech skills and it’s a really humbling experience. I’m really out-geeked here, and that’s okay. I think I’ve hit a point where I don’t need to be the alpha geek, but I want to be respected and liked for my skills and who I am, and I think I’m gonna get there again.

Transition Stuffs

I really don’t talk about this stuff much because, frankly, it’s a very personal and private thing, and I don’t like sharing it with the world unless there’s a reason… but here’s a few of the highlights that have happened in the last few months.

I got my letter giving me permission to start HRT from my therapist a few weeks ago. I have an appointment with my doctor next week to talk about this. I’ve been stuck in insurance company hell just trying to get that appointment, but I finally figured it out. I’ve never had an HMO before (we had a PPO in Texas), and I’ve had to learn how to work within it. The appointment next week is for an exam and then a referral to a transgender specialist to go from there. I’m guessing I still have a number of weeks to go before I’m actually able to start HRT because of the insurance company, but at least the ball has started to roll.

My court date to get my name legally changed is at the end of March. This has been a really long process. I got it started the day after I moved here (I think it was Jan 3rd), and I’ve had to wait almost four months for my court date. In the middle there I had to run an ad in the paper saying I was doing so, etc. This is a very expensive and long process, but it’ll be here before I know it.

It’s so weird knowing that four weeks or so the name I’ve been calling myself for quite some time (and go by at work) will actually be my name. And no, I’m not changing my name to Bunny. 🙂

The State of California allows you to get the gender marker on your ID changed by basically just asking for it, so when I go to get a new driver’s license after my name change I’ll be sure and turn in the form to get that changed as well. In CA there are two options for gender marker changes. One is the permanent one you’re most likely thinking of, which requires “medically appropriate treatment,” and a form by a doctor stating this has been done. (It’s purposely left vague. What is considered appropriate is not up to the court to decide, it’s up to your doctor.)

The second option, and the one I will be going after, is a temporary change. To get this one you have to have your therapist fill out a form stating that your identify and your demeanor match the gender marker you wish to have, and that’s it. There is no medical treatment required. This change is good for five years. At the end of the five years you can either reapply and get it again, or if you’ve had medically appropriate treatment, get it switched to perm. When it’s in the temp state the only way you can tell that it’s not a perm change is by looking at the DMV computers. The license you’re handed at the DMV looks the same either way, only the DMV knows the difference.

I’ve come as far as I can go with the laser on my facial hair, so I’ve switched to electrolysis to clean up what’s left. I found a lady that’s very trans friendly to work with. She’s a throwback to the 1980s. She doesn’t use computers, has fairly old equipment… but…. she’s been doing this for 30+ years and is really good at it. I’m not the first trans client she’s had and I’m sure I won’t be the last. That’s exactly what I wanted. The cool part, for me, is that she still charges 1980s prices. (But she’s cash or check only, no credit cards!)

In case you’re wondering, electrolysis hurts. OMG does it hurt. It’s not as bad as the laser, but my face swells up for a few days afterwards, and I go once a week. I had a lot of blonde and white hairs left that the laser won’t touch, so she’s cleaning me up. It’s working, it’s just gonna take a while.

I’m an emotional wreck some days. (Most days.) You can see a little bit of that here on LJ and some on Twitter. This is a really difficult time for me, and I’m doing to best I can to deal with it alone. I’ve only told a very small handful of people at work that I’m about to start HRT, and they’re totally sympathetic. I hope it stays that way. I joked with one of them yesterday that “there are gonna be a few days when all I want is chocolate and stuffed animals. If you don’t mind me just checking out those days that’d be great,” to which she said “of course.” Outside of the two people I’ve told I am keeping my mouth shut. This is a deeply personal thing for me and I’m just keeping it to myself, but I do like having a few people that understand and can cover for me when I need it.

One last thing to wrap it all up. 🙂

This morning I Tweeted that one thing I really like about my job is that my quirkiness doesn’t make me a weirdo. It makes me unique and valuable to the team. I really do mean that.

A few weeks ago my entire team was here in San Francisco. (Most of them work remote, I’m the only one that’s full time in the San Francisco office.) They were so nice to me the whole week. One night when we were at dinner together as a team I told them “Thank you for being so understanding. This is a really awkward time in my life and y’all are making it so easy on me and I really, really appreciate it. I know you got more than you bargained for with me, but you’ve all taken it with grace and it just means a lot to me.” (When I interviewed I was presenting MOSTLY as male and had my male name on my resume, but only because I didn’t want them calling my employer and getting “Uh? There’s no one here by that name??” I *DID*, however, have a cute purple bow in my hair and used my normal rabbit icon in Skype when they called.)

I am extremely grateful to be working where I am. It’s very easy to be a weirdo when you work for a company full of them. 🙂

Till next time!
Bunny <333