Hi! My name is Olivia. I’m a trans woman just finishing my first year of medical school in Chicago. One of my goals while I’m here is to improve my peers’ awareness of the violence we face, and of trans issues in general. I’m working with a small group of other students to convene a panel of trans people speaking for ourselves about our lives and concerns as they apply to medical care. We hope to convene about 4-5 people at a time, with plenty of room to rotate out depending on who can make which presentations. We’re hoping to convene the panel in May and again for other clinical audiences in August and beyond!
In the longer term, we’re working with our behavioral science department to expand the simulated patient program to include transgender people as standardized patients. Standardized patients are actors who are paid to interact with clinical trainees, either with a loose script or simply as themselves, in order to help us learn to conduct our business with sensitivity, efficiency, and respect.
We are often very bad at this. We could use quite a bit of help.
So. I am determined to create opportunities for us to share our lives and struggles in a safe and appreciative environment. I’m hoping to get in touch with anyone and everyone who
1) describes themselves as trans
2) might want to participate
that’s it! No other requirements apply, although I’m particularly interested in including trans women of color - if this describes you, I feel very strongly that your voice needs to be heard by our community.
If this sounds at all like something you’d like to be a part of, I’d love to hear from you! Please drop me an email through tumblr or at collaterly AT gmail DOT com and we’ll go from there. Thanks so much for your time and attention.
Anonymous said: yo, so while i agree with what you are saying, you do realize there are some people who detransition after using hormones, right?
I am indeed! and, in studies on detransitioning, something like 90% of people who detransition (possibly more) report a crushing and total lack of social support as their primary reason for doing so. Not, and this is key, any change of heart or lack of clarity whatsoever as to who and what they are. The vast majority of people who detransition do so because the world fucking hates trans people. That’s true of every single person I’ve met who’s detransitioned or contemplated doing so.
Of course, you’re mostly asking about the remaining <10%, and I suppose that’s fair. There are a small number of people (including one or two wealthy celebrities, if I recall) who sincerely Regret It, who wake up one morning realizing they Fucked Up. After All That. I’m sure they exist, because, well, pretty much anything can and does happen on this gay earth.
In either case, yes, there is a nonzero chance that someone who requests HRT might someday deeply regret being given it.
So what? To get where I have so far, I’ve had to wake up every morning and take pills that could kill me dead of thromboembolism any minute. For years, and for the rest of my life. They might stop my heart and kill my liver and break my dick and fuck up my skin and give me cancer and they’ve certainly rendered me infertile. I have demonstrated that I understand these risks, can apply them to my own motivations and circumstances, and ultimately, accept them - this is what is referred to as informed consent.
Regret is simply another risk, and it has its (small) place within the consent process. It is one of the least likely negative outcomes possible from starting HRT, and far from the most serious. While detransitioning is a Very Fucking Significant and almost certainly Sad situation, it is not the end of life. People detransition and transition later in life. People are forced to detransition for absolutely ghastly reasons and put up with it as long as they have to. And, as I once informed my dear old dad back in the days of not quite realizing how messed up he was, in the unfathomably unlikely event that things aren’t what they clearly are, I will have options beyond walking slowly into the nearest ocean.
It’s easy to see withholding HRT as “not intervening” and therefore benign, but this is not accurate. The decision to withhold is both significant and likely to incur profound costs (depression, self-harm, suicide.) HRT is a life-saving intervention for many people who seek it out. There are no established tests (beyond them seeking it out and giving informed consent) that can tell you that deciding your patient isn’t “ready” or “sure” will not, in fact, kill them. Whoopsie doodle! Informed consent is the most good and the least harm we are currently capable of, and it’s hard to see that changing.
Focusing on the risk of regret and detransition as special hazards that pose distinct challenges to an informed consent model comes from living in a society that - once again - hates trans people so much that being “trapped” in a “genderless” or “mixed” form is considered a sort of ultimate poetic horror, perhaps a fate worse than death. It comes from what started gatekeeping, essentially - the idea that the trans existence is pitiable, substandard, for the chosen and truly wretched few at best, and we must protect society from it as much as possible. Such a belief is incompatible with my life and with my living with dignity. What is a “shocking lifestyle” or “strange” to others is and must be normal for me, if I am to be sane and complete. The risks and benefits must be as any others seen in any other sort of life - unembellished by sensationalism - as must be my authority in choosing between them. This is a condition shared by anyone asking a physician to assist them in their transition.
transphobic people will say “just because you fit the stereotypes of that gender doesn’t make you that gender” in one breath and “you don’t fit the stereotypes of that gender well enough to identify as that gender” in the next i give up i fucking give up
trans people are never “good enough” at being ourselves to be considered worthy of basic human respect, pretty much
Employers rated in the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index 2012 that provide insurance coverage for transgender-related treatments, including surgical procedures, for employees and their covered dependents:
(Keep in mind to be on this list each company had to offer at least one trans* benefit in their plans which can range from hrt, to gender therapy, to different types of surgery. Do your homework when applying to companies when it comes to healthcare so you know what they cover!)
- 3M Co.
- A.T. Kearney Inc.
- AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah Insurance Exchange
- Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
- Accenture Ltd.
- Aetna Inc.
- Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP
- Alcoa Inc.
- Alston & Bird LLP
- American Express Co.
- Ameriprise Financial Inc.
- AMR Corp. (American Airlines)
- Aon Corp.
- Apple Inc.
- AT&T Inc.
- Automatic Data Processing Inc.
- Avaya Inc.
- Avon Products Inc.
- Bain & Co. Inc.
- Baker & McKenzie LLP
- Bank of America Corp.
- Bank of New York Mellon Corp., The (BNY Mellon)
- Barclays Capital
- Barnes & Noble Inc.
- Best Buy Co. Inc.
- Bingham McCutchen LLP
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida Inc.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota
- BMO Bankcorp Inc.
- Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
- Boston Consulting Group
- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
- Broadridge Financial Solutions Inc.
- Brown Rudnick LLP
- Brown-Forman Corp.
- Bryan Cave LLP
- Caesars Entertainment Corp.
- Campbell Soup Co.
- Capital One Financial Corp.
- Cardinal Health Inc.
- CareFusion Corp.
- Cargill Inc.
- Carlton Fields PA
- Chapman and Cutler LLP
- Charles Schwab Corp., The
- Chevron Corp.
- Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP
- Choice Hotels International Inc.
- Chrysler LLC
- Chubb Corp.
- Cisco Systems Inc.
- Citigroup Inc.
- Clifford Chance US LLP
- Clorox Co.
- Coca-Cola Co., The
- Comerica Inc.
- Corning Inc.
- Covington & Burling LLP
- Credit Suisse USA Inc.
- Crowell & Moring LLP
- Cummins Inc.
- Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
- Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
- Delhaize America Inc.
- Dell Inc.
- Deloitte LLP
- Deutsche Bank
- Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP
- Diageo North America
- DLA Piper
- Dorsey & Whitney LLP
- Dow Chemical Co., The
- Dykema Gossett PLLC
- E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (DuPont)
- Eastman Kodak Co.
- eBay Inc.
- Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP
- Eli Lilly & Co.
- EMC Corp.
- Ernst & Young LLP
- Exelon Corp.
- Faegre & Benson LLP
- Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac)
- Fenwick & West LLP
- Ford Motor Co.
- Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
- Gap Inc.
- Genentech Inc.
- General Mills Inc.
- General Motors Co.
- Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
- GlaxoSmithKline plc
- Goldman Sachs Group Inc., The
- Google Inc.
- Group Health Cooperative
- Group Health Permanente
- Herman Miller Inc.
- Hewlett-Packard Co.
- Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP
- Hogan Lovells US LLP
- Hyatt Hotels Corp.
- ING North America Insurance Corp.
- Intel Corp.
- International Business Machines Corp. (IBM)
- Intuit Inc.
- Jenner & Block LLP
- Johnson & Johnson
- JPMorgan Chase & Co.
- K&L Gates LLP
- Kellogg Co.
- Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group Inc.
- Kirkland & Ellis LLP
- KPMG LLP
- Kraft Foods Inc.
- Levi Strauss & Co.
- Limited Brands Inc.
- Littler Mendelson PC
- Lockheed Martin Corp.
- Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc.
- McDermott Will & Emery LLP
- McKinsey & Co. Inc.
- Medtronic Inc.
- MetLife Inc.
- Microsoft Corp.
- MillerCoors LLC
- Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
- Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP
- Morgan Stanley
- Morrison & Foerster LLP
- Navigant Consulting Inc.
- Nike Inc.
- Nixon Peabody LLP
- Nordstrom Inc.
- Northern Trust Corp.
- Office Depot Inc.
- Oracle Corp.
- Orbitz Worldwide Inc.
- Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
- Owens Corning
- Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
- Paul Hastings LLP
- Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
- Pearson Inc.
- PepsiCo Inc.
- Perkins Coie LLP
- Pfizer Inc.
- PG&E Corp.
- Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
- PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
- Prudential Financial Inc.
- Raytheon Co.
- Replacements Ltd.
- Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP
- Rockwell Automation Inc.
- Ropes & Gray LLP
- Schiff Hardin LLP
- Sears Holdings Corp.
- Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP
- Sempra Energy
- Seyfarth Shaw LLP
- Shearman & Sterling LLP
- Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP
- Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
- Sidley Austin LLP
- Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP
- Sodexo Inc.
- Southern California Edison Co.
- Sprint Nextel Corp.
- Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP
- Staples Inc.
- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
- State Farm Group
- Sun Life Financial Inc. (U.S.)
- Supervalu Inc.
- Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
- Symantec Corp.
- TD Bank, N.A.
- Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund
- Tech Data Corp.
- Thompson Coburn LLP
- Thomson Reuters
- Tiffany & Co.
- Time Warner Inc.
- TJX Companies Inc., The
- Toyota Financial Services Corp.
- Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc.
- Troutman Sanders LLP
- U.S. Bancorp
- UBS AG
- United Continental Holdings Inc.
- United Technologies Corp.
- UnitedHealth Group Inc.
- Volkswagen Group of America Inc.
- Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz LLP
- Walt Disney Co., The
- Wells Fargo & Co.
- Whirlpool Corp.
- White & Case LLP
- Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP
- Winston & Strawn LLP
- Xerox Corp.
- Yahoo! Inc.
Here is a link to HRC’s 2013 Corporate Equality Index which includes even more than listed above. Check out page 31: (obviously best viewed in the above.pdf)
I have two queer identities and they are at war with each other. I have one queer identity and it is fully integrated. I have one queer identity placed in conflict with itself by outside forces. I have to pick one. I refuse to pick one.
There’s always been a troubled relationship between the (cis) gay male community and the trans community. To the extent that when we say “the gay male community,” we mean, “the cis gay male community.” It’s presupposed within the language that “the trans community” and “the gay community” are discrete and nonintersecting entities. There’s been an equally troubled relationship between the (cis) lesbian community and the trans community, but in different ways (read: radfems, Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Dirt’s blog, etc), and ultimately I think the (cis) lesbian community and the trans community—at least the FAAB trans community—are more interlocked. I think FAAB trans people who once identified as lesbians are more likely either to continue identifying that way or to carry on a tight relationship with the lesbian community, whereas MAAB trans people who once identified as gay tend to shed that identification and community connection. I don’t know if this is correct, or if it is correct why it is correct; it’s just my observation based on the trans people in my little Lebenswelt. (Things I am in addition to a gay trans man: a douchey person who says things like, “my little Lebenswelt.”)
What I can say is that there is a barrier between cis gay men and trans people in general. It’s been there for a long time, in the social spaces we occupy within the queer scene, in the ways we present ourselves and are presented to the straight world in media, in the organizations that purport to protect our interests. It exists because the gay men at the top (who are also, incidentally, white and rich) think trans people are a little too queer, or queer in the wrong way. At best, they think we’ll scare off the straight people. At worst, they’re just as transphobic as a straight person who says things like, “But you’re really a man/woman, you silly [insert slur here]!” All of this is pretty much commonly agreed upon, and we’ve seen it in action many times. There’s the HRC’s less than stellar record with ENDA, there’s Christian Siriano calling ugly things “hot [slur] messes,” there’s any number of things.
What about the barrier between cis and trans gay men, though? We belong to the same little gay gang. Shouldn’t we bro it up and listen to Gypsy together? I certainly think it would be a good time.
I’ll suggest a few reasons why this hasn’t happened yet.
1) The gay male community is deeply entrenched in the exact same harmful ideas about bodies that trans activists are working to smash.
When this whole “gay movenent” thing got started, we all got very excited about idealizing the (cis) male body and looking up on it in a sexual way. Now, that’s all very cool in the way it (sort of) subverts the male gaze (or at least turns the male gaze on other men), and can make it clear in one piece of visual art that this is about finding another man sexy and that is perfectly okay. The end result of all this, though, has been that one of the banner images of the gay male community, one of the essential elements of our culture, is the image of a cis male body. That’s going to exclude trans men pretty effectively, for my money!
Also, at some point, young gay men started to engage in a discourse about their sexuality that validates their queer identity through degradation of FAAB bodies. I don’t know when this happened; I just know I hate it. Jokes like, “And then she was like, do you want to go out some time? And I was like, ew, no, I’m gay, I don’t want to fall into the gaping black hole of your vagina!” Or painting, “Kiss me! Penis only please,” on your chest when you’re shirtless at Pride. Like the above example of idealized images of the cis gay male body, it comes from a desire to validate/express one’s queerness and one’s sexuality, but it ends up being cissexist and loathsome (and, in the case of degrading talk about FAAB bodies, misogynistic more often than not).
2) Gay trans men are erased from histories of gay men.
All queer people are to extent estranged from our own history because of the silence surrounding queer bodies and lives. But woe betide you if you’re trying to find examples of trans people in history, and woe betide you to the nth power if you’re trying to find examples of trans men. Good luck finding me an example of a well-known trans man from history who isn’t Alan L Hart, Billy Tipton, Reed Erickson, or Jack Bee Garland. Even those are well-known only in certain circles, and we spend about half our time trying to keep queer women from falsely claiming that these men were queer women—with the exception of Reed Erickson, where we spend all our time going, “That guy had a fucking leopard. A leopard! For a PET! And knew Chris Isherwood?” (Both of these things are true.)
Gay men have a history in common. In many cases it’s a cobbled together history, and in some cases it’s still murky, but it has an established canon, stories that are easy to tell and remember, and it’s fairly easily accessible if you have the internet or a library. (The full extent of the devastation caused by homophobic negligence at the beginning of AIDS is a good example of a murky period.) Gay men can point to stories of Oscar Wilde, Harvey Milk, Rimbaud and Verlaine, Walt Whitman, James I, or Larry Kramer (if they’re feeling a bit radical that day), and say, “Look, that’s us, that’s our past, that’s where we come from.”
Gay trans men are implicitly excluded from this history. There’s Louis Sullivan, of course, the founder of FTM International and a great man who was taken from the world by homophobic negligence during the AIDS epidemic, but discourse on Sullivan’s life is never a part of gay history except when all queers are lumped into “gay.” Sullivan is never ever discoursed upon as a gay man or a part of gay male history. He is always a part of trans history, usually as a “trans man who was gay,” and often as “the first gay trans man.”
In this way, gay trans men are implicitly declared to be modern, new, exclusively contemporary, springing fully formed from the skull of Judith Butler. Did people like me exist before 1980? I know they must have, but aside from a single photograph I saw once in a Leslie Feinberg book, I’ve never had any real confirmation of the fact. The dominant gay male paradigm erases the existence of trans gay men from history, and if we don’t have a place in the gay past, it’s going to be very difficult for us to have a place in the gay present.
3) It is assumed that gay male culture is largely about sex, and it is also assumed that trans men are sexually unattractive to cis gay men by virtue of their trans bodies, ergo, trans men cannot participate in sex-centered gay male culture.
People usually point this out with astonishment at the idea that any trans man could ever possibly try to live a “gay life,” whatever a gay life is—I think these people are assuming a “gay life” is one where you fuck/date/love people of the same gender. I’ve had this articulated to me usually by people who aren’t queer, except for the countless times I’ve heard gay trans men talk about being worried no gay man will ever be interested in them because of their FAAB bodies. The latter makes me impossibly sad to hear. (I’m obviously a walking refutation of the idea, but you know. It always feels a little self-aggrandizing to say, “Well, gay men want to have sex with me! Or maybe I’m just crazy hot.”) Basically, it’s an assertion that cis gay men will never be interested in trans gay men sexually, ergo, trans gay men can’t really participate in the gay community.
This relies on the ancient homophobic assumption that gay men and the gay male community are obsessed with sex and exclusively focused on sex. Promiscuous, constantly horny, thinking with their genitals. Of course you can’t participate in the gay male community! The gay men don’t want to fuck you, and that’s what their community is, a giant orgy!
Of course, the whole assumption that cis gay men won’t be interested in trans men is founded in cissexist and transphobic ideas about bodies and gender. And I mean, well. Buck Angel. Have you heard of him. And all the gay men who watch his porn.
4) Gay male culture often involves feminine gender play and expression, and when trans men engage in this, their gender identity is immediately questioned.
If you’ve spent your whole life asserting that no, you’re really not a girl, you didn’t make this up, you aren’t lying, the idea of doing something as quintessentially gay as dressing up as Madonna for Halloween is going to seem pretty terrifying and likely to invalidate you. The minute a gay trans man participates in the time honored gay male tradition of performing an outrageous, campy version of femininity, his maleness is questioned by those around him. I once had a boss tell me the reason he consistently mispronouned me was that I liked ballet and musical theatre and sometimes tapped my feet when Britney Spears played in the office.
5) Straight women sometimes feel more comfortable in the company of gay men, and the dominant paradigm assumes this is because they are insecure about being able to attract straight men. The dominant paradigm assumes that trans people are self-hating and this is the etiology of their gender identities. The dominant paradigm therefore deduces that gay trans men belong to the aforementioned group of insecure straight women.
This line of thought is usually a sibling to Zucker-esque “straight trans men are lesbians who hate themselves” and “gay trans women are attracted to the image of themselves as a woman” ideas. It conceives of gay trans men as inadequate straight women. Because these straight women are inadequate, they seek out the company of gay men, who will not scorn them as straight men do. They feel so comfortable with these gay men that they wish to become one of them, and they therefore try to do so.
This obviously rests in the idea that femaleness is an inferior condition, one that women must try to escape. It is profoundly misogynistic and thus of course extremely common, because misogyny is the little black dress of social evils and goes perfectly with every single -ism you can think of.
6) Because of the gay activism’s poor record with trans issues, there is significant pressure within the trans community for trans people to minimize their gay identities.
I noticed this especially when the marriage equality movement became extremely intense in New York. Complaining that the queer movement is too focused on marriage is perfectly legitimate. I agree. But I received significant backlash that took this form: “This is a gay issue. You’re trans. You are betraying your transness by involving yourself in a gay issue when the queer movement is overly focused on gay issues.” It’s just one way that gay trans people are attacked for trying to fully live and express their sexual identity and gender identity together.
That’s the end of my litany, I think. There are more ways the gay and trans male communities are estranged from one another, of course, but I have to leave some ground to cover for the dissertation I finally write, right?
I’d love other people’s thoughts on this. You may have noticed it’s a subject close to my heart.
I’ll leave you by repeating that it is incredibly fucked up that we think of “the trans community” and “the gay community” as discrete things. I feel stretched between both and barred from fully joining both because of my membership in the other. I’m going to drown my sorrows in sushi and Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall.
At 5 you’re too young because 5 year olds believe they’re superman. At 11 you’re too young because puberty hasn’t set in yet. At 16 you’re too young because puberty hormones mess with everyone. At 18 you’re too young for the same reason. And after 18 you’re too old because if you were really trans you would have said something by now.What people really want is for trans people to stop existing so we stop challenging the common, incorrect idea that men and women are as separate and uncrossable as if they were separate species.A Widdershins Girl: Transphobic logic (via theselfmademen)
I mean it’s right there in the DMHC’s own words - arbitrary limitation and exclusion of coverage for transgender patients is discrimination and is illegal under CA law. What is “we will follow the best available standards of care for other conditions, but make up our own rules for yours” if not arbitrary?
Safe, open party for trans* and otherwise gender non-conforming folks, as well as their allies, in the Boston area.
It’s being put on by my doctor’s office! This is the flier.
more signal boost! I’m gonna try to make this!
what are some major LGBT-friendly (emphasis on T) medical centers on the East Coast of the US? Like that would do a pap smear for a FtM guy without double-taking? I want to know my options if I ever want to move cities…
i go to the mazzoni center in philadelphia, if that helps
theyre a low cost clinic that works on informed consent and also takes care of other necessary medical shit besides just transition care
one thing people forget is that there is a huuuuuuge difference between representation in a fictional context, and representation in real life
an actor portraying someone as trans* can take that particular mantle off at the end of the day unless they themselves are trans*, and even then the specifics are vastly different between the actor’s life and the character’s life
when it comes to actual real human beings, hoping that someone is trans* three seconds after they’re born is kind of cruel imo, just because dysphoria is such a horrible, soul-crushing feeling, and so many trans* folks attempt suicide and nearly all of us have suffered some pretty damn heavy social stigma that can result in some pretty gross shit
so yeah, it’s okay to wish/headcanon that a fictional character is trans*, and i encourage it wholeheartedly
but wishing that a real person, especially a child, is trans* is absolutely crossing the line
our lives aren’t fun, ok
we’re not rainbow-shitting unicorns
please stop treating us as such
By Nicki Ward
Photos by Michael Toledano
This weekend, after years of fighting for the right to be seen and heard, thousands of people took to Yonge St. in the largest Trans March of all time. This wasn’t the largest Trans March in Canada—this was the largest Trans March in the world. Ever.
In every meaningful sense, June 28th, 2013 was a watershed moment in Trans history. So, why has almost no one heard anything about it?
The answer is Pride. Not the biblical kind of pride, but rather the corporatized, heavily branded “McPride” that is the reality of modern, gay-for-pay, event planners.
It should astonish everyone (except trans people, who are used to this kind of thing) that the Trans March receives zero financial support from Pride Toronto Inc. No money, no media support, no logistical support, no water for marchers. Nothing.
The fact that one of the wealthiest members of InterPride / WorldPride contributes absolutely nothing to this community is disgraceful. However, not only have they failed to contribute, they have actively set up barriers (literal and figurative) to prevent marches from happening.
Community members had been asking for support for years, but had been dismissed with bureaucratic excuses from Pride Festival officials who claimed that “The city won’t give a permit”, “the timing isn’t right”, or that “the police won’t allow it.”
In 2009, local activists who were tired of this figurative blockade decided to assemble at the top of Church St. and walk a few hundred yards South towards Wellesley St—the heart of Toronto’s “Gay Village.” As we assembled, several “safety officers” representing the Pride Festival attempted to panic the Trans marchers by claiming the demonstration was “illegal.” After further discussion, they claimed that they had “brokered a compromise” and that we were allowed to march… down the sidewalk.
However, we were also told that we would have to stop the march at Wellesley St. because Pride Festival officials had placed a 50-foot wide metal barricade blocking the entrance to the Gay Village.
Understandably, marchers felt outraged. To have the entrance to our “heartland” blocked by a Pride Festival, which claimed to support us, was beyond betrayal. We took to the streets, we marched, we blocked traffic, and we pushed through those barriers.
Every year since then, the march has struggled on. And every year since, Pride Festival officials have failed to provide financial support and have engaged in obstructive practices. In 2010, they used “cattle gates” to attempt to funnel marchers into a beer-garden. In 2011, they used cisgendered volunteers to misdirect marchers. In 2012, they pushed marchers through market stalls that were still under construction. This is just a short list of the kind of tactics used.
In 2013, Pride Festival officials, yet again, claimed that the City of Toronto had objected to the March. When community organizers disproved this and obtained a “Notice to Demonstrate,” Pride Festival officials claimed that the march wasn’t “legal” or “safe.” They sent out misinformation as to the route, the start time, and even went so far as to print thousands of copies of a route map that showed the march (incorrectly) ending up in one of their beer gardens.
And despite all of this, on June 28th 2013, the trans community self-organized the largest march of its kind in the world.
This puts Pride Toronto Inc. in a very difficult position. Their fund-raising activities rely heavily on the claim that they support things like the Trans March. A claim that is demonstrably not true.
Perhaps this explains why Pride Festival Organizers are tongue-tied when it comes to gushing about this moment in Trans history. But ultimately the accomplishments of this past weekend have superseded Pride’s constant aversion to the Trans March, even if it’s a temporary win.
Here’s a rundown of what I’ve gone through so far; hope it helps out a few other folks looking to change their name via court petition.
First, file a petition. This is easier said than done- it has to be in a certain format, and at least the lady I dealt with at the prothonotary office at the courthouse was remarkably unhelpful. Thankfully, they have a law library that is free to the public to use and several websites that have the proper format for your petition all ready to print out (bring quarters because they charge $0.25 a page to print, though it’s on the honor system) and fill out. You will also need to have your fingerprints taken (this can be done in the sheriff’s office in the same building and does not cost anything but time and inky fingers) and submitted with your petition. Overall, the cost of filing your petition should run you around… I’m going to round up to $70, since I can’t recall the exact amount. You will get a receipt for this. I paid cash, and I don’t recall what other forms of payment they accept. In fact, I’ve paid cash for everything so far.
In a few days, you will get your court date in the mail, along with the requirements of what you’ll have to do before your court date. These will include a lien search, and advertising in the Pocono Record and Monroe Legal Reporter. Get these done as soon as humanly possible so the ads go out before your court date. The overall cost of the two ads will be about $90, and you will receive proofs in the mail, though the Legal Reporter likes to take its sweet friggin time getting your proof to you (I got mine TWO DAYS before the damn court date, and I had done the ads about a month in advance of it). The lien search has to be done through an Abstracting firm, whatever that’s supposed to mean, and set me back about $50 and was done in less than a week (I went to Veritas in Tannersville and they were remarkably polite and helpful. Also they had a rad typewriter in their office).
Once you have all your paperwork in hand, it’s basically sit and wait until your court date. Try to dress a little nicely, but that’s just my opinion as someone who is goddamned terrified of courtrooms in general. There will probably be other people there also getting their name changed, and they seem to go by alphabetical order by last name. The entire business will take about 5-10 minutes, and at least Judge Williamson was very respectful and didn’t intentionally out me beyond reading off my birthname to call me to the stand, since that’s what was the first thing on the petition. If you put on your petition that you’re pursuing transition from <assigned sex> to <gender>, chances are the judge will just ask if the reason outlined in your petition is the reason you’re changing your name. If you have Judge Zulick, he’s also very trans* friendly. Remember, you’re probably not the first trans* person they’ve seen change names, and you definitely won’t be the last unless they’re retiring like, tomorrow.
After the court session, it’s more sit and wait for your order- so you can get your documentation changed- and your bill for court fees, which is what I’m waiting on right now. I’ve heard it’s about $300 total for court fees, but don’t quote me on that. I’ll add an update when I get my bill. Changing documentation will also cost money, and I’ll also update on that. Thankfully in Pennsylvania, changing your state ID or driver’s license gender marker does not require surgery, so if anyone at the DMV gives you a hard time, you DO have legal recourse. Changing your social security gender marker also does not require surgery.
So far, it’s set me back about $230. You can probably get court fees waived if you can prove it would be a financial hardship, and you can get the newspaper requirement waived if you can prove that it would potentially put you in danger. However, these might stretch the process out a hell of a long time, so if you can sock enough away, it’s probably better to just fork over the money if you can possibly afford it.
Hope this helps! Good luck to anyone who needs this.