Ringing the changes part 2

So, my first post about how I changed my name with various organisations was starting to get a bit long, so this is a continuation.  The first can be seen here – Ringing the changes

I hope this detail on my experience helps.  I will probably get round to doing a normal blog post again at some point.

6. Admiral Car Insurance.  I e-mailed their customer services asking for the best way to go about changing name and gender.  They responded quite quickly telling me just to e-mail them at customerservices@admiral.com with the details of the change.  I did this detailing new and old name and specifically that there was the gender change too.  After a couple of weeks of stiff ignoring I called them on the phone.  The representative informed me that it was in the process of being changed, they then reversed the changes before putting them straight whilst I was on the phone.  Five minutes later I logged into the online system and my certificate of insurance had been replaced with a new shiny one in the name of Mrs Amy Georgia xxxx and Mrs Helen E. xxxx.  So that all seemed straight forward and didn’t even need the deed poll to be sent.  I guess the final proof of this will be at renewal time.

7. The NHS.  This one was easy.  I wrote to the practice manager at the Drs asking them to update my records at the surgery.  They then called and said they would need to see Deed Poll. We dropped this in so they could see it.  They then informed that after they had updated the surgery records this would then ripple through to update all NHS records.  No further action was needed.  Very professional and helpful.

8. Driving license. This too was quite simple, which surprised me.  You need form D1 from the Post Office or ordered from online for free. Then tick boxes in section 1 to Change Name and Renew Photo.  Then enter current driver number into box in Section 2. Put new name in box in Section 2.  Also put old name in the free field text box in Section 2. Nothing to do in Sections 3 and 4.  Then it was Section 5 that I thought would be hard.  For proof of ID I used my Passport, even though this is still in my old name and old photo.  I entered Passport number in Part A of Section 5 and then put an X in the box for Deed Poll in proof of name change in Part B.   Then added new photo (which wasn’t signed by a witness) and signed the document in Section 7.  Then sent off with Deed Poll to the right address.  New license with right name back in a couple of weeks.

 

This entry was posted on October 28, 2016. 1 Comment

Ringing the changes

Well, it’s been a very long time since I wrote a blog post on here.  It has mostly been my better half posting, but then she does write better than I do.

Anyway, I’ve got to the point of going full time as Amy in all things apart from at work where I still present male at the moment.  As part of this I’ve been going through the process of changing my name.  In doing this I’ve turned to the internet to be the source of useful information and have found lots. Two sites in particular were great reference points. These are:-

http://www.gires.org.uk/law/documents-to-be-changed-upon-gender-transition

and

http://uktrans.info/namechange.pdf

I also found lots of help and advice from the lovely people of twitter.  What I didn’t find easily was a ready reference of do this for this company or do that for this other company. I also didn’t find lists of links to relevant pages or forms used etc. So I thought as I was going through the process right from the start that I would collate as much as I could from my experience and put that in this post.  It will become an ever changing and evolving post as I do more and more companies and organisations but I hope the information and lessons learnt will help others who follow me.  Obviously this is going to be UK based and in certain regards England based as the different regions of the UK have different processes in place in certain regards.

Anyway, onto the steps taken.

  1. Obviously first and most important was the Deed Poll.  I did this using this site – http://freedeedpoll.org.uk/ – which after researching at https://www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll/make-an-adult-deed-poll and reading on the uktrans.info page above I decided was perfectly valid and legal.  I printed it out and got two good friends to sign it.  And then you feel a little “is that it?” But we celebrated the momentous occasion with some fizzy wine anyway.
  2. Still slightly disbelieving the legality of the Deed Poll I though the best way to kick off the process was to check it with HMRC and get my tax records sorted.  Here I found that you can change your name and pronoun, but you can’t change your gender until you have your Gender Recognition Certificate.  So that would have to wait a couple of years.  Anyway, the process with HMRC is to write to Special Section D as I found out here – https://ukftm.tumblr.com/post/114926905646/how-do-i-change-my-name-for-my-national-insurance and also here – https://www.gov.uk/tell-hmrc-change-of-details/gender-change
    So, I wrote the following letter to them and included my Deed Poll and a stamped addressed envelope for the return.
    HMRC
    Special Section D
    Room BP9207
    Benton Park View
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE98 1ZZ26th September 2016

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Re. National Insurance Number AAxxxxA

    Please find enclosed my deep poll showing that I have legally changed name as part of my transition to live in my preferred gender role of female.

    Please can you therefore update my record with HMRC to show my new name of Amy Georgia  XXXXX and that I will be no longer using Txxxxx George XXXXXX.

    Please can you also restrict my record such that the gender markers are hidden.

    I enclose a stamped addressed envelope for returning my deed poll.
    Yours faithfully

    Amy Georgia XXXX

    After sending this off by Signed For post I was expecting it to be returned saying I had done something wrong.  But this morning a special delivery letter came addressed to Mrs Amy Georgia XXXX which explained that they had received my change of name Deed Poll and that my details were being amended to reflect the change.  In addition to updating the records additional restrictions have been applied to my National Insurance and Department for Work and Pensions records to limit access to authorised users and that my taxation records held in Cardiff would be restricted to specific users.  All very nice and simple.  So, it turns out that the Deed Poll was in fact fine and that I didn’t need a stamped addressed envelope as they kindly returned it to me unused.

  3. Amazon – well this one seemed remarkably easy.  I just logged in and edited my details in the My Account section.  Changed delivery addresses and name and all has worked. It has been lovely getting Amazon deliveries to Mrs Amy XXXX.
  4. Adobe CC Photo Plan – again this one seemed straight forward, just logged into account and changed the details.
  5. OneAccount Bank – We have one of those combined mortgage current account things with the OneAccount.  I wrote to them requesting they update the account and mortgage details to reflect new name and gender and sent the letter along with my deed poll to their head office address in Norwich with a SAE to return the deed poll.
    Today I got a letter back stating that they have made all the changes and new cards and cheque books will be delivered within 7-10 days.

Limbo.

That’s what it feels like, we’re in limbo with nothing to do but wait, Amy’s referral was made in November and if she’s really lucky she may get an appointment in June at the very earliest and that’s only the first of many steps. So I ask myself how do we get through the next few months? We can’t just sit here and wait, we’re on a journey so we need to keep moving forward and every little step makes it feel more real, just this last week Amy emailed her oldest friend to told her and had an encouragingly supportive response. Not to be outdone I also emailed a friend which was pretty scary as she was the first person I’d told myself, she sent the most lovely and accepting response  which was just what I needed for my first go at telling someone! Obviously we are carefully selecting who we tell at this stage, people fall into categories, people we are confident will be accepting so will tell first, people who will have to be told personally regardless of how we expect them to react will be told before we get too far along the path and others who will eventually find out via a mass email/FB announcement if (when?) Amy decides to go full time. The rest of the world beyond that can find out on the grape vine.

So maybe not quite in limbo, taking tiny baby steps forward but heading in the right direction at least and then there’s tomorrow’s GP appointment which is taking up far too much of my head space today! You see, Amy asked him about prescribing bridging hormones which the guidelines say is an option but it’s not the surgery’s policy to do so as they don’t have the expertise so he wouldn’t. He did however write to the GIC to ask their advice on the matter, the last time we saw him he hadn’t heard back from them and had little hope that he would but a letter came a couple of weeks ago saying he had heard back with recommendations about bridging hormones and asking Amy to make an appointment. I’m not sure I dare hope that they’ve given the ok or quite what I’m expecting him to say, I’m swinging between hope and dread and if it’s a no we’ll be back to me saying lets investigate the private options and Amy saying “I’ll just have to wait” but at least it’s something, it’s action not inaction.

New year thoughts from Amy’s wife.

Back to the real world today and my heart is breaking. I’ve just watched the love of my life get into the car and drive off for work after two weeks at home. He’s going to a job he feels overwhelmed by in an industry he doesn’t want to work in and feels trapped and hopeless. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture that mythical black dog weighing him down, the depression that just won’t let go, that constant companion that does it’s very best to suck every bit of joy out of him. I feel useless, helpless and I’m at a complete loss as to how to help, how to banish this darkness that we have lived with for so long.

But that’s not really true is it? I have a pretty good idea of exactly what would help because whilst on a day to day basis the job makes everything harder, it’s not the real problem, not the root cause of the depression. It’s that tiny little word ‘he’ not only trapped in a job that makes every day more of a struggle than the last but trapped in a body that doesn’t match the person inside. You see on the inside is a wonderful, beautiful woman who is desperate to get out, she’s always been there, she was the little girl who played Star wars and wanted to be Princess Leia and the young woman who came shopping with me and always had a good eye for what suited me or didn’t. I’ve known that she exists for more than two years now but I’ve loved her for much longer without realising it was her.

Surely the solution is simple then? Change the outside to match the inside and live happily ever after…

If only it were that easy!  If only we lived in a society that allowed people to be who they really are without fear of persecution, a world where anyone who doesn’t fit with the accepted norm didn’t have to fear prejudice or violence and if only making that change came with a guarantee of future happiness and peace.

So two years on from discovering that I had in fact married a woman not a man as I had thought a lot has happened, yet in some ways nothing has happened. We have talked more about things that really matter than we ever did before, I’ve learnt loads about what it means to be transgender and came to really admire the brave women who have taken this step to become who they were always meant to be. Finally in the autumn we did it, we took the huge step of telling our teenage sons, we needn’t have worried, they took it really well and seemed quite chilled about the idea. The next week we went to the GP, he was great and did a referral to the GIC immediately, saying that we should hear back with an appointment in two weeks’ time, things felt hopeful at last.

Here comes another but…

But then there were two weeks of waiting, exactly two weeks to the day a letter came from the GIC saying ‘we are processing you, you are on a waiting list’ so now we wait. Waiting with no idea of how long for seems cruel, surely they have a diary and know how far ahead appointments are free? Whether it’s a 6 week or 6mth wait, knowing would help, there’s a feeling of being in limbo, your future is in the hands of some strangers who will at some point allow you to start the process of jumping through the many hoops required to prove to their satisfaction that she is in fact a she, that she is trans enough to tick all of their boxes. For someone who is already buckling under the weight of depression, who has waited until the need to act on these feelings has become pretty much overwhelming, this just feels too hard, too much. All the hope that seemed to be creeping in is crushed and swept away, it took such courage to take even this first step and feeling that there’s nothing to show for it is hard. It’s hard being the one watching too, wanting to help, to make it better but not knowing how; watching the person you love slipping into a big dark pit and wanting to pull them out but fearing that if you try too hard you’ll just send them further in.

I realise that I can never really understand how it feels to be transgender, when you’ve always been comfortable in your own skin it’s hard to begin to imagine the pain and distress it causes for the internal and external to just not match. All I can really do is be here and support the best I can and hope that it’s enough, hope the system works and that we can get started on this path soon because moving forward no matter how slowly has got to be better than just sitting still.

Amy’s wife pops in again.

Hello, Amy’s wife here again, here are a few more thoughts from me x

I wish the world were different, I wish it was a place where people were free to be true to themselves without fear of what other people might say or do. I wish I was brave enough to not care that it’s not like that. I wish I could say “Who cares what the world thinks? You be Amy, wear what you like, when you like and wherever you like!” But I’m not that brave, not yet anyway, maybe one I will be, maybe one day I’ll have to be braver, just not yet, I’m not ready for that.

You see Amy didn’t really come out of the closet to me, she opened the door a crack and I climbed in with her. It’s quite cosy in here really, we talk so much more than we have for years, about feelings and everything and it’s safe in here, no one to judge and no one to get hurt. That’s my biggest fear, that we will make mistakes in how we handle this and our children will get hurt, neither of us want that and both would do anything to prevent it.

The trouble it that Amy has been stuck in this closet her whole life, ignored, her very existence denied and she wants to spread her wings. She wants to venture forth into the world, not with a loud fanfare or a big bang but quietly, discreetly to just be herself somewhere outside of our house. Why does that scare me so much? Well as I said, the world isn’t always that nice a place and I want her to be safe, I want to protect her.  I’ve stopped asking myself why being Amy here with me isn’t enough, I still kind of wish it was at least for now, but I do understand why it isn’t and I’m working on the bravery.

Craving acceptance.

After my initial experiments with wearing my mum’s clothes I knew that I really wanted to be a girl. Actually it was more than that, I knew that I was a girl. What I didn’t know was that there were options open to me. With the small town, naive knowledge that I had, I was stuck as a boy. Unless God was going to answer my prayers, which didn’t seem likely. I didn’t know that there were hormones and surgeries that could turn my outside into what I was inside. My solution to this as I mentioned last time was to stuff it into a box and become depressed. Not the smartest of solutions it has to be said, but it was the only workable one that I could see.

The upshot of the depression was that I started to crave acceptance in many forms. I started to compromise myself to make sure friends liked me. This didn’t really lead to anything massively untoward but I did and said many things that I wasn’t proud of. The idea of saying “no, I don’t think we should” never entered my head because I was scared to death of rejection. I only had a few friends at school and there was no way I was going to risk getting shunned by them. Better to have a few fake friends who let me tag along and compromised principles than to be billy no mates. Again, looking back this isn’t the smartest approach to life, but then when have teenage boys been accused of being smart?

One of the worst things I got into was drinking too much and probably upsetting a few people.

It was around this time that I got my first serious girlfriend. There had been a few girlfriends before this. An odd snog here or there and one very fumbled and far too young experiment with sex. Fancying girls and having a girlfriend itself caused confusion to me. The thought process went along the lines of – if I am a girl inside then surely I would fancy boys not girls, but I do fancy girls so I have to be a boy. As I said, I was from a small town and was naive, so the idea of possible differences in sexuality from the boy-girl norm did not enter my head. I just knew without a shadow of doubt that I fancied girls. (I think I will talk more about this self revelation in a later post)

Having a girlfriend did help because it made me feel more accepted. I didn’t accept myself but if someone else liked me that much then things can’t be all that bad. This first long term relationship lasted until around the time I went to university. That was it from then onwards I needed to be loved to be able to feel better about myself. The problem was that although when I was young I seemed to be very popular among the girls this became less so as I got older. Probably my desperation to be loved was a big turn off to them. I had one other serious relationship whilst at university and just after that ended horribly prior to meeting my now wife. The problem was that I needed to be loved as I was. I couldn’t accept the need to change and compromise. Thinking about this I believe it is all linked, for me to love myself as I was, I needed others to love me as I was. If they needed me to change to love me then there was no way I could love myself; and there was no way that the other person really loved me because they wanted to change me. If you see what I mean. This was ultimately why the relationship at university ended and also has caused many problems over the years with my wife.

To keep my feminine side properly locked away in its box and to banish the depression the boy on the outside needed to be truly loved and accepted for who he was and everyone needed to adapt to that. As you would expect this selfish approach to life did not work out for the best. I caused a lot of upset to many people, including my wife, and my depression just got worse.

I have certainly learnt the hard way that craving acceptance and compromising principles is not the best life strategy. Now if only I could bottle that knowledge and sell it. Hmmmmm…..

Fortunately for me my wife has stuck by me despite what I have put her through and for that I am extremely grateful and humbled.

 

A long time ago…

I can’t remember when I first knew that something was different about me. I certainly don’t have a defining moment that I can look back on knowing that was when I knew for the first time that I was a girl, not a boy. I think it more crept up on before and during puberty. I’m only now analysing these thoughts through the fog and haze of a lifetime.

We had had sex education lessons at school, so I knew what bodies were supposed to do as you got older. My problem was that mine wasn’t doing the right things. I kept looking but there never was any sign of breasts growing. Instead other bits grew and my voice changed. None of that was in the plan.

At the time I put a lot of my confusion and feelings down to the constant bullying I received at school. The logical process of “those nasty boys who hit me don’t hit the girls… so if I was a girl they would stop hitting me”. The thing is I had always associated more with the girls at school and I never liked any of the supposed boy things such as football. I enjoyed other pass times such as sewing and crochet. (Truly stereotyping here, but it was the 70’s and early 80’s). Looking back I got bullied because the bullies perceived something in me that I didn’t see in myself at the time. They saw and mercilessly attacked my feminine side.

I remember taking part in a couple of mini plays, one in the cubs and one in primary school, where they needed someone to dress as a girl. No girls in cubs in those days you see. The primary school one was Cinderella and they needed some ugly sisters, I was an ideal choice. Whilst I didn’t jump at the role – I probably didn’t want to appear to eager, I was strangely happy to take it on despite the ammunition it could give to the bullies. These are some of my first memories of wearing a dress.

Anyway, back to the lack of breast growth. As I got older I got more and more miserable. This was the start of the depression that has haunted and crippled me daily since. I would sit at night in my room hoping and praying that I would wake up the next day as a girl. If only I could be a girl then the pain would go away and I would be happy. Yet every morning when I checked I still had bits I didn’t want and no sign of the breasts that I did, I was always still a boy. This was immensely unfair.

As the years went by the depression carried on but the naive expectation that a night’s sleep would change my body to match my feelings was slowly squashed into a box. There was no internet forum to come to for help and there was no way to articulate these feelings to friends or family. Ultimately I was a boy and I had to man up and get used to it.

It was around my early teenage years that I first tried on women’s clothes with the desire to look like a girl. One day when I had the house to myself I raided my mum’s wardrobe and tried on tights, skirts, dresses, bras (socks were very handy here), blouses etc all with my other bits squeezed between my legs. I can remember standing in front of the full length mirrors in the bedroom and feeling right for once, but also intensely guilty and terrified of being caught.  My ears twitching for the sound of a car on the drive or a key in the lock. The guilt and terror didn’t stop me though and on a few further occasions when home alone I would try mum’s clothes again. This always brought with it the desire to be a girl and that then didn’t help in the long run.

More of the story to follow.

Love

Amy

Amy’s wife tells her side…

A few months ago I was looking through some old photos and came across one of my husband looking incredibly young, proudly holding our newborn first baby. I smiled fondly at the memory but then felt incredibly sad as I remembered the sweet, caring, sensitive boy I had met and fallen head over heels in love with, 15 yrs of depression, a job he hates and 3 more babies later that boy is little more than a memory. I still love the man he is but I have wished for many years that I had the ability to make things better for him, to lift the weight of his depression and in that moment it hit me suddenly and painfully just how much the years had changed him.

Stick with me that will be relevant honest……………

So, the tights! As Amy said, so much has happened since that first night it’s all a little mixed up in my head and I’m not really sure why or even what I was really asking. I guess I knew there was something more than the depression there as about 7 years ago when I worked shifts that finished at midnight and I came home once to find him wearing a pair of my black lacy knickers. He managed to convince me that it was just a one off, trying it out on a whim type thing and I didn’t really give it another thought for a long time. Fairly recently he had told me that when he was about 12yrs old he had wished that he could magically wake up one day as a girl. This he put this down to the bullying he was subjected to throughout school; the theory being that the bullies would leave him alone if he was a girl and that sounded completely plausible. The memory of the lacy knickers jumped back into my mind on hearing this but at no point had the idea that he could be trans crossed my mind.

When I suggested he get some of the tights I was thinking on a purely practical level of how cosy and warm they were, so good for wearing under jeans for doing outdoor stuff in the cold weather. There was just something in the way he reacted to the suggestion and how he rushed straight off to get them and try them out that made me ask the question. It seems so obvious now but up to that point it wasn’t. That said, I wasn’t shocked, surprised perhaps, but the more we talked the more sense it all made. Whilst I was fine with the idea in theory when he suggested trying on some of my clothes, I was also scared that I would react wrongly, do or say something to make him feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. I had butterflies in my tummy as he got changed, all sorts of thoughts were going through my head. What if I freaked out? Surely I should be finding this whole idea weirder than I was, maybe I was just suppressing my feelings and they would all burst out of me when I saw him dressed as a her! I looked up and none of those things happened, I just saw the person I loved, ok he was wearing my clothes but hey, it’s only social conditioning that tells me that boys can’t wear skirts anyway (not sure the same applies to the fake boobs but you know what I mean). Not only was I not freaked out by this new side of my husband but I quickly came to realise that something magical happened when he put my clothes on, he talked, about feelings, I found out for the first time in years what was going on inside his head and I rather liked it.

It was a little like opening the flood gates, hardly surprising when this girl living inside him had been squashed in a box for 30yrs and I had lots of chances over the next couple of weeks to meet her. He would change clothes and instantly he was different, it was as if his entire being was giving a sigh of relief and then he was her. I began to feel positive about the future, I had no idea where this was going to take us but it quickly seemed obvious that his depression was very likely to be linked to the fact that he had been living a lie his entire life, trying to be something he wasn’t, I felt there was hope.

But that’s not the best bit, no, the best bit is that I suddenly realised that I already knew the girl living inside my husband, remember the sweet, caring, sensitive boy I had met and fallen head over heels in love with? Turns out he was a sweet, caring, sensitive girl and now I get to spend my life with her.

Love

Amy’s Wife

What happened next and a bit of history

When I left you last I had just come out of my closet to my wife. Or, probably more precisely, I had opened my closet door and let my wife squeeze in with me. The closet in question is my living for the last 30 years feeling like I was in the wrong body. Though I looked like a boy on the outside I have always felt like a girl on the inside.

So, as I said in the last post, it was time to tell her my secret. This has now all become a bit of a blur so it is hard to put it all together in the right order to tell the story, but I will try. My wife was asking me with a quizzical look about my motives for buying the warm fleece tights. I was about to say “Of course it is just to keep my legs warm” in a very manly voice. However, a different sentence actually came out. Something along the lines of “Well, er…  um…. you know… (insert hands waving around)… er… well… you see… er… I like wearing women’s clothes”. To my amazement she took the news remarkably well and we started discussing why I liked them. I spent the rest of the evening explaining how I felt like a girl trapped inside a boy’s body and how I had done so since being around 10 years old.  She patiently listened and asked lots of questions.

I tried to articulate feelings and thoughts that had been squashed and repressed for the best part of 30 years. It was, quite frankly, a very weird evening but also one that was incredibly positive for both of us.

We sat in our bedroom with a bottle of Black Cherry Jim Beam (which helped the conversation flow) whilst we talked and I even plucked up the courage to suggest that I tried on some of her clothes.  She helped find a bra that fitted with a couple of socks for stuffing, the tights (of course) and then a simple T-shirt and floaty blue skirt. Now, here I was sat with my wife and I was in her clothes having just revealed that I felt more like a woman than a man – despite appearances – and I was feeling the most relaxed, comfortable and at ease with myself than I had for many many years. I’ll try and explain how big a thing this was, see, I felt awkward and embarrassed and self conscious, but these negative feelings were overridden by the positive feelings caused by suddenly looking on the outside how I had always felt on the inside and this left me at ease and relaxed. I hadn’t felt this good for as long as I can remember.

The whole story came out over the next couple of evenings. I explained how I sneakily tried on some of her clothes before when I had the house to myself and how when I was young I would do the same with my mum’s clothes. These never felt quite so right and positive as it was always associated with a feeling of guilt, particularly the younger day’s experiments.

As we talked we put two and two together about another side of my life as well. You see, in addition to my confusion over my gender I had lived the best part of my life suffering from quite severe depression. A depression that nothing the doctors prescribed or suggested ever really touched. This is a question to answer another time but after a couple of evenings talking things through my wife said “I have such a positive feeling about the future” and I was happy to agree. After years of living under an oppressive black cloud I could see the smallest hint of blue sky.

Isn’t it amazing what a pair of tights can achieve?

Love Amy.