My Book: The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Gender Identity

Many of you have probably been wondering why my blog has been so inactive lately. Well, I wrote a book! F + W Media, Inc. has a series called “The Conscious Parent’s Guide To…” about a number of different topics. They wanted to publish one on gender identity, found me through this blog, and asked me to write it! I was happy to have the opportunity to write about how to best support gender expansive kids to a more wide-reaching audience. I truly hope it helps a lot of families.

The book is ideal for parents/guardians of gender expansive kids, but could also be useful for extended family members, therapists, teachers; anyone involved in a gender expansive child’s life. Click here to order your copy: The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Gender Identity: A Mindful Approach to Embracing Your Child’s Authentic Self.

I do want to add that I did not write Chapter 1. Chapter 1 is the standard chapter for all of the Conscious Parent’s Guides. I only added in the parts related to gender. So, if you don’t love Chapter 1- keep going. 🙂 If you liked Chapter 1 best, sorry. 😉

In addition to the overview in Chapter 1 about conscious parenting, there are ways to incorporate being a mindful, conscious parent throughout the book. This is so much more than just being “present”, it’s about recognizing your little human as a separate being, with their own unique will and spirit. I write about how to best connect with your child in order to be most receptive to what they are trying to tell you.

I write about the differences between gender and sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, gender expression vs. gender identity, and what gender “expansiveness” really is. This not only helps those involved in a gender expansive child’s life understand these concepts, but helps explain them to others.

I discuss the concept of getting to know one’s child for who they are from the beginning, rather than making assumptions that later need to be shifted or undone. I write about parenting gender expansive children, and the difference between being transgender and “just” gender expansive. In the book you will find practical tips for interacting with and advocating for your gender expansive and/or transgender child, while learning how to trust yourself and appreciate life at the same time.

Later in the book there is more specific information for families who have a child in need of social or medical transition: how/when to navigate interventions, coping with outside influences/reactions, siblings, extended family, schools, etc. There is a specific chapter dedicated to “helping your gender expansive child with teasing”, based on the concepts I present at gender conferences. There is also a specific chapter dedicated to dysphoria, which is important for everyone involved in a transgender child’s life to understand.

The appendixes include some resources I hope you will find helpful, including ways of looking at natal sex/gender identity/gender expression/sexual orientation on spectrums, or on more of a fluid shape. There is a list of “Classroom Rules” to help classrooms promote diversity. There is also a worksheet for children who may need some help in understanding when a friend or loved one is going through transition. Last but not least, there is a sample letter from parents informing their loved ones about their child’s social transition.

Let me know how you like the book, and leave an honest review on Amazon! Thank you so much for your ongoing support of this blog, I promise to get back to writing regular posts soon.

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Legal Name and Gender Change: Detailed Information with SAMPLE PACKETS (California)

I have been meaning to post this for quite a while, but I have been shorter on time than I have on good intentions. 🙂 I know this is something that many people need assistance with, as filing a name and gender change (for yourself or your child) can be a daunting undertaking. Please keep in mind it typically takes 6 weeks from filing the documents to court date with a completed court order.

I want to give a huge “thank you” to Emmett for putting together a list of step-by-step instructions for filing a name and gender change and providing me with the court paperwork for an adult. Also, special thanks to Britt for providing the sample paperwork for a name/gender change for a minor.

I took the paperwork and filled out “sample” packets for each. The areas you need to fill out are highlighted. These didn’t scan well, so I apologize for the poor quality. If you have any trouble reading them, please let me know and I will either re-scan or I can answer specific questions. The files are too large to email. I know these are specific for San Diego, but I hope they will be useful to those in other parts of the state as well. If you are one of my clients and see me in my office, please ask me for a copy of the sample packets- I have several on hand!

Click here for the Transgender Law Center’s page with links to forms needed. (San Diego County link listed below.) For those of you not in San Diego, simply Google your county and “name and gender change”. PLEASE NOTE, DUE TO AB1121,  IF YOU ARE CHANGING YOUR NAME TO REFLECT YOUR GENDER IDENTITY, YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO PUBLISH ANYTHING IN THE NEWSPAPER. If the court is unaware of this, educate them.

Here is the Transgender Law Center’s awesome resource, “ID Please” that includes UPDATED information on changing name, gender, etc.  If you are interested in pursuing a name and gender change, start on page 9. If you ONLY need to change your child’s gender marker (keeping birth name), and your child was born in California: click here.

Filing the packet costs $435 (at least in San Diego), but the fee can be waived based on low income. (“In Forma Pauperis“.)

Youth (minor) name and gender change sample packet HERE.

Adult name and gender change sample packet HERE.

BEFORE YOUR COURT DATE

(Thanks again to Emmett for these detailed notes!)

Print all necessary forms and fill them out (or have them filled out, as is the case for the doctor one, NC-210). Here is the website for printing the forms for San Diego.

Forms needed for an both an adult or a minor name/gender change:

CM-010

NC-220

NC-230

NC-200

NC-210

NC-110

-Make a copy of signed/filled out paperwork for your records. Bring the original packet and a copy of the packet to 330 W. Broadway. (Downtown San Diego).

-Once you pass the security check, take the escalator up to the second floor & the Civil Business area.

-It can be a little confusing, so ask someone if you are lost.

-Get in line on the far left of the room and wait to file your forms with the clerk.

-They will go over all your forms, stamp them and give you a case number.

-They may try to tell you that you need to publish your name change, REMEMBER that AB 1121 went into effect July 1, 2014 that states that a person changing their name for gender purposes is not required to publish.

-They will give you a court hearing date and time.

DURING YOUR COURT DATE

-Show up early.

-Bring both copies of all the documents and a pen.

-Give yourself time to find the court room.

-Sit down and wait outside.

-A lot of people will likely start showing up because people legally change their names for a variety of reasons (marriage, divorce, etc).

-Someone will come out and point to a list that is up on the wall. The list has everyone’s name on it and a number next to it. Find out what number you are and write it down. They call out cases by number and sometimes last name (so don’t worry about your birth name being called out!)

-They sometimes call in everyone that is getting both a name and gender change first because there are fewer people and it’s a more private matter than a marriage.

-You will get called in, you will be seated, the judge will come in, they will review your documents, and if everything is in order: declare your new legal name. (Congratulations!)

-After that they will tell you to go wait outside and they will bring you four signed copies of the court order.

-Do not worry about your physical appearance or gender presentation. If all the forms are filled out, especially the physician form, the judge does not care.

-You can leave and celebrate. 🙂

AFTER YOUR COURT DATE

Your work is not done! There are more documents to change that had your birth name on them. These documents are supposed to “match” in the system, so this is important. Here’s the order you must go in.

1) Social security

-1333 Front St, San Diego, CA 92101. (855) 820-0097

-Fill out this form for a CORRECTED social security card

You’ll need to bring your court order (form NC-230), identification (driver’s license, ID or passport) and the form above filled out.

-No need to make an appointment, just walk in and take a number.

-Allow 4-6 weeks for the card to come in the mail.

-IMPORTANT The form does not include a specific gender change. So in the “sex” section mark the gender that you legally changed to (transmasculine folks mark male, transfeminine folks mark female) and make sure to point it out on the form when they call you up. It doesn’t say your gender marker on the card, but it does in their system, and that’s how the DMV verifies your gender when you go there to change your documents. Confirm they have changed it in their system.

2) DMV

-Go to whichever DMV is closest to you. Make an appointment, or get there early.

-Fill out this form with your doctor BEFORE going to the DMV

You’ll need to bring your court order (form NC-230), identification (driver’s license or ID) and the form above filled out.

-You will also need to fill out form DL 44 (name change), but they give you that when you show up.

-They’ll call you up, review your forms, tell you everything is good and send you over to get a new photo taken.

-Allow 4-6 weeks for you Driver’s license to come in the mail. They will send you an ID card sooner than that.

3) Bank

-IMPORTANT you must have your updated ID or driver’s license BEFORE going to your bank. They use it as proof that you are who you say you are.

-Go in and ask to see a teller.

-Bring your court order (just in case), and your new ID or driver’s license.

*********

In the near future I will be posting more detailed information about how to change your birth certificate and password- stay tuned!

If you have any information that would be helpful to add to this blog post, please email me at tandotherapy@me.com

One more time, here are the sample packets!

MINOR PACKET

ADULT PACKET

Name and Gender Documentation in Schools

It’s that time of year… school is starting or is about to start! If you have a transgender child or teen, it’s time to be discussing with the school what name and gender marker is going to be on the rosters, computer system, and “Power School” fields if the school uses it. Only those close to transgender children and teens realize the distress that having their birth name and/or gender marker on school paperwork can cause. I’ve seen the panic in their eyes firsthand. They are often petrified of having their peers learn their birth name. They are worried about being “outed”. Every time they log into the computer system at school, every time attendance is called (especially in the beginning of school or by every single substitute teacher), every time a schedule or report card is passed out, even sometimes buying lunch and having their birth name and gender pop up on the computer letting them into the cafeteria… I can only imagine the tension and anxiety every single one of these instances brings up for them. This is an unnecessary stressor for these kids and we all need to do our part to be educated and speak up about this issue. The following is an excerpt from Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools: Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment; Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity: “The 2011 National School Climate Survey by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), found that 75.4% of transgender students had been verbally harassed in the previous year, 32.1% had been physically harassed, and 16.8% had been physically assaulted. Educators play an essential role in advocating for the well-being of these students and creating a school culture that supports them.” I believe changing the documentation that circulates around school and on attendance rosters is a crucial part of creating a school culture that supports transgender and gender nonconforming youth. I recently learned at the Gender Spectrum conference that the school is only legally required to keep the legal birth name and gender marker somewhere in the permanent file, but they can change EVERYTHING ELSE to the preferred name and gender before a legal change. Before spreading the word, I did a little research on this topic to back up this claim. The following quote is from the California Safe Schools Coalition Model School District Policy Regarding Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students: “Official Records The District is required to maintain a mandatory permanent pupil record (“official record”) that includes a student’s legal name and legal gender. However, the District is not required to use a student’s legal name and gender on other school records or documents. The District will change a student’s official record to reflect a change in legal name or legal gender upon receipt of documentation that such change has been made pursuant to a court order. In situations where school staff or administrators are required by law to use or to report a transgender student’s legal name or gender, such as for purposes of standardized testing, school staff and administrators shall adopt practices to avoid the inadvertent disclosure of such confidential information. Names/Pronouns A student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that corresponds to the student’s gender identity. A court-ordered name or gender change is not required, and the student need not change his or her official records. The intentional or persistent refusal to respect a student’s gender identity (for example, intentionally referring to the student by a name or pronoun that does not correspond to the student’s gender identity) is a violation of this policy.” The following are excerpts from California School Boards Association (CSBA)’s “Final Guidance: AB1266, Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students, Privacy, Programs, Activities and Facilities“: “Upon request, districts should prepare data systems to list a transgender or gender nonconforming student by his or her preferred name and gender.” “Privacy Rights of Transgender or Gender Nonconforming Student A student’s decision to inform the district that his or her gender identity differs from his or her biological gender is extremely personal and private. In addition, transgender and gender nonconforming students may face bullying and harassment as a result of other students or staff not understanding or tolerating the public representations of their gender identity. At the same time, the decision may potentially involve very public components if, for example, the student starts to go by a different name. Despite this potential for public awareness, districts are still legally responsible to maintain the students privacy according to the students wishes.” The following is an excerpt from Know Your Rights – Transgender People and the Law; Name Change and Identity Documents “Can a person change his or her name to reflect his or her gender identity? Yes. In some states [and California is one of those states], through what is called “common law name change,” people may change their name simply by using the new name in everyday interactions. It is free and easy, but does not create the kind of solid paper trail needed to change identity documents.” If you are interested in pursuing the legal name and gender change, know it takes at least 6 weeks to go through. Those of you who reside in San Diego can find the packet here.  Click here for the Transgender Law Center’s comprehensive page with links to all forms needed. For those of you not in San Diego, simply Google your county and “name and gender change”. PLEASE NOTE, DUE TO AB1121, YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO PUBLISH ANYTHING IN THE NEWSPAPER. If the court is unaware of this, educate them. Filing the packet costs $435 (at least in San Diego), but the fee can be waived based on low income. (Ask for the “In Forma Pauperis“.) Here is the Transgender Law Center’s awesome resource that includes UPDATED information on changing name, gender, etc. If you are interested in pursuing a name and gender change, start on page 9. If you ONLY need to change your child’s gender marker (keeping birth name), and your child was born in California: click here. Any other tips from those who have been down this road greatly appreciated!

Youth (minor) name and gender change sample packet HERE: minornamegenderchange

Adult name and gender change sample packet HERE: adultnamegenderchange

Not Enough Resources!

The recent directive disallowing exclusions in California healthcare plans for care related to gender transition is significant progress! I continue to be excited by what this may mean for transgender CA residents with health insurance.  The next obstacle to overcome? The absolute dearth of trans-friendly/trans-competent resources in many parts of the country.

I get emails from people from all over the US, seeking gender transition and not living near any well-known resources in order to be assisted therapeutically or medically. I often go immediately to Google after receiving such an email, for which I always chide myself. My peeps know how to Google, and Google well. Do I really think I can Google resources in their area, and something is magically going to appear for me that did not for them? No. If a resource was available on the internet, it would have been found. “Did you try Laura’s Playground?”. Yes, they have usually looked for resources on Laura’s Playground. Then I’m stumped. I start reaching out to people who may happen to know of something that is not easily accessed on the web.

(A special shout out to Zander Keig, an incredible advocate for the trans* community and someone who is always willing to help me look for resources when I hit a brick wall.)

It would be one thing if this were just about logistics; it’s not. These are not just emails looking for resources; they are pleas for help. Pleas for help peppered with “I don’t know how much longer I can do this” and “I can’t remember the last time I was happy.” There’s an urgency inherent in these emails that cannot be ignored, and makes finding no resources in their area all the more frustrating.

I may not be able to see them in person, but I can still picture the look in their eyes, and on their faces. It’s a look I’ve seen countless times before in many of the clients I’ve had the honor of meeting with face-to-face.  It’s a look that tells me the internal obstacles they’ve overcome were overwhelming enough; obstacles to resources are sometimes more than they can bear.

There needs to be MORE gender therapists, gender clinics, and endocrinologists/doctors willing to treat this population.  Every major medical center and hospital should have doctors employed who are knowledgeable and equipped to medically prescribe hormones to the transgender citizens of this country.  I think back to my first transgender client; I knew next to nothing about the therapeutic and medical needs of this community.  This first client gave me a chance and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you are a transgender person or a loved one, seek resources where you think there are none. Talk to therapists and doctors to see if they are willing to get educated and begin working with this population. There are excellent sources of information to guide professionals new to this arena, such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care and the Center for Excellence Primary Care Protocol.  Somehow we’ve got to make this circle bigger so that care is readily available to ALL.

Important Medical Info for Trans Men

I finally watched the documentary “Southern Comfort”; it’s one I’ve been meaning to watch for years. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone trying to find out more about the trans community, but it addresses a VERY important topic. It’s the story of a Female to Male transgender individual named Robert Eads, who died from ovarian/cervical cancer after being refused medical treatment. It shocks and saddens me that anyone in the medical field would refuse to treat someone in need of help, regardless of their race, gender identity, social status, anything… and as recently as 1999!

The main reason the doctors cited not wanting to treat him was that it might make the other patients in the waiting room uncomfortable or that treating him would damage their reputation. As a result, over the course of the movie you see a very vibrant and loving person diminish and then pass away.

However, I’m not necessarily writing this blog about the outrage of refusing to treat a trans individual medically. The main reason I chose to write this is to remind trans men: if you still have a cervix, ovaries, or a uterus, you are at risk for cancer in these areas! I know reading this, thinking about this, or talking about this is just about the last thing you want to do, and many trans men avoid the tests for these cancers like the PLAGUE. Having a pap smear is an uncomfortable experience at best for most women. For trans men, I can only begin to imagine how awkward/humiliating/discouraging having to go to one of these appointments must be. PLEASE GO ANYWAY. It’s better to feel like you’re going to die of embarrassment then to actually die of cancer. Yes, I am trying to scare you into going. To quote Mr. Eads himself, “The last part of me that is female is killing me.”

I have a couple of practitioners in San Diego to whom some of my trans male clients have gone for these types of exams, and have had nothing but nice things to say about the doctors. In addition to this, I have called both of these doctors’ offices and asked if they are open to having their names on my resource list for my trans male clients. They both said yes! Please see the bottom of this post for their names and contact information.

If you don’t have medical insurance and can’t afford to pay out of pocket for these providers, there are some low-cost clinics in San Diego that could perform these tests. If you don’t live in San Diego and you need help finding a place to go, email me and I will help you research this. Or, if you are too shy or scared to call a doctor’s office to find out if they would be trans-friendly, let me know! I will call for you. Client or not…even if I’ve never met you.

Once you have an appointment, one thing you can do to make the experience more comfortable is call the doctor’s office or clinic the morning of your appointment. If you are too nervous to do so, have a partner, family member, or trusted friend do it for you. You or they can let the front desk staff know who you are, what you will be seen for, and how you present so there is no confusion when you arrive. You may need to gently remind them they are to use male pronouns and your chosen name (if not yet legally changed).

One important point made in the documentary is that since Robert transitioned later in life, he was close to menopause. Because of this, he was advised he did not need to have his uterus and other female reproductive organs taken out. I believe the loose guideline for getting a hysterectomy after taking Testosterone is 5 years. If you are an existing client of mine and need a letter to have the hysterectomy performed, let me know.

The most important thing is that you don’t ignore this.

Come on, be a man… go get a pelvic exam!

For more information go to:

http://www.ftmguide.org/tandhealth.html#pap

http://www.checkitoutguys.ca/

http://www.ftmguide.org/hysto.html#why

San Diego Providers:

Dr. Alisa Williams*

619-299-3111

4060 Fourth Ave Ste 640

San Diego, CA 92103

*Dr. Williams also does hysterectomies

Dr. Laura Norton Petrovich

(619) 435-2234

1224 10th St Ste 200

Coronado, CA 92118

Trans Youth Family Allies

On Monday 5/23/11, I had the pleasure of listening to Kim Pearson speak at the LGBT Center! I have heard so much about her, and I was thrilled to finally get to meet her in person. Kim is an amazing woman and mother of a trans individual. She is the Executive Director and co-founder of Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA), an organization that connects and supports families of trans children. The “little t” in LGBt, as Kim would say! 🙂 Her organization plays a crucial role in advocating for and educating for this underserved population.

I approached her after the talk and told her we must connect, so the next day we met up for coffee.  It was wonderful to talk to someone who is so passionate about working with gender variant and transgender children, and completely validated my beliefs about the work I do with them. As she said at the end of our meeting, “It’s so nice to meet like-minded people!” Likewise, Kim! Thank you for all the work you do. See the link below for more information about Kim and TYFA.

http://www.imatyfa.org/aboutus/bio-kimpearson.html

Also, consider donating to keep this AMAZING, volunteer-based program alive. http://www.imatyfa.org/permanent_files/donate.html

Stay tuned for more blogs about valuable information and insights I gained from connecting with Kim.