Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Legally Sophie

Many months ago, I started a Gofundme to raise the money I needed to change my name.  Thanks to the generosity of so many of you, the money was raised very quickly.

It wasn't an easy road.  I started the process in January.  There were delays and delays.  I grew incredibly frustrated.  I thought that this day would never come, and that I'd die under my male name.

Ready for Court.  I only have one suit.  Deal with it.

Well, the day came.  Monday, October 3, 2016 was a cloudy day.  I woke up early to get ready.  I decided to wear my suit, and took extra time on my makeup.  After all, I wanted to look good for court.

My appointed time was 9:30 AM, courtroom A, Chester County Courthouse, West Chester, PA.

And I was there on time.  Early in fact.  Good thing too, as they started early.  I was sitting in the court room with my attorney.  Man came in said, "All rise." We all stood up, and Obie stood up with the twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures, and the judge walked in sat down with a seeing-eye dog, and he sat down, we sat down. Obie looked at the seeing-eye dog, and then at the twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one, and looked at the seeing-eye dog...

Oh sorry.  Was channeling Arlo Guthrie for a second there.

In any case, the Honorable Robert J. Shenkin entered, assisted by a fancy wooden cane.  He looked stern.  I remembered what happened to my friend Cecilia in Harrisburg, when a conservative judge forced a continuance on her name change because she is Trans.  I was very nervous.

The first case heard was a Protection from Abuse (PFA) case which stemmed from a divorce and custody action.  That took twenty minutes or so.  The judge then said that the court should sort out the name changes next, as the rest of the docket was PFAs, and name changes didn't take long.

My dead name was called, and I stood with my lawyer and came forward.  My lawyer stated the relative facts of the case and submitted all of the paperwork.  The judge asked me why I wanted to change my name.  I replied "The name I choose is more in keeping with my true gender."  He signed the order, handed it to the clerk and said "Approved."

And that was that.  9:50 AM.

In Front of the Courthouse

I do not disguise the fact that the name "Sophie Lynne" is and has always been my nom de femme and my nom de plume.  It's the name by which people know me.  I used to have a facialbook page with my "true name" but I eliminated it.  I don't want to discuss the reasons.

In any case, my legal name is Sophie.  My middle name is now Lisa.  That is in Tribute to my sorely missed sister Lisa Empanada.  So, in a way, as long as my name lives, so shall she.  A Tribute I will wear through my life and onward through eternity.

My attorney then bought me a coke, and we talked a bit.  Then I went back to the apartment, changed out of my suit, and went to work.  Just another day.

The next day, I went back to the courthouse to pick up certified copies of the order.  I saw my dear friend Adrien there.  She works there now.  We talked a bit, then I went to the Social Security office. I waited about an hour, but submitted the paperwork to change the name on my social security card.  Then I went to the DMV for a new driver's license.  That took maybe twenty minutes.

By then I was tired, and went back to the apartment.  Linda was taking a nap.  I did too.

I wasn't going to post about this.  At all.  Anywhere.  Why?  Because I hated it when I saw others do it.  It made me feel so useless that I couldn't get it done. I know it's not a race, but I couldn't help but feeling so damn jealous.

But I am posting it.  Why?  Because it made me Happy.  It didn't hit me yesterday.  But it did today, striding out of that courthouse, papers in hand, the wind in my skirt, heels clacking on the sidewalk.  I can't describe the mix of emotions I felt.  I guess because they were POSITIVE emotions, and I don't have much experience with those.  I felt confident.  Alive.  I couldn't stop smiling.

I sent a picture of the license to a few close friends.  One of them sent me a reply "... it all starts changing for the better here.  This is the turning point, and you made it!"

Maybe it is.  I hope so.  (There's that "Hope" word again.)

When I was at the DMV getting my camera card for the license, the clerk asked me to look over the card.  She asked "is that your correct name?"

I said "Yes.  Finally."

Be well.

(Want to see me read this?  Click HERE)


  1. Congratulations....

    It took long enough, and now you can breathe the sigh of relief you have long deserved. You can now be who you are and have been to the rest of the world!

  2. It's a long-awaited legal finality. Feels SO GOOD! You have much to be proud of! You are LOVED.

  3. Congratulations my bestie. It has been a long, frustrating time, but you have made it! So shall it be written, so shall it be done! Hugs

  4. Congratulations and glad you had a positive feeling about it. I am sure you will find many more in your journey. And by the way...I love that Arlo Guthrie song...and in that can get anything you want, excepting Alice.