As of Friday, September 20th, 2013, my name is Leslie Michelle McMurray. The actual change took place in front of a judge in Texas, and took under 5 minutes, bringing an end to that particular journey. As the late Paul Harvey would say – “Here is the rest of the story.”
My birth name was for 2 family friends. One of which was a captain for United Airlines. My birth certificate said I was male. At the earliest stages of my life, I knew otherwise.
At about age 6 I asked my mom & dad what my girl name was going to be. They said: “Leslie.” Since that day, Leslie has been the name I wanted. I wanted that name more than anyone knew.
Over the years I would practice writing the signature as if it were mine. I thought about how “Leslie” would dress, what her hair would look like (medium brown, long and straight) and how she would act. I was a pre-teen boy weeping into my pillow because I couldn’t be a girl. There wasn’t even a vocabulary available to express that I needed help.
It wasn’t until the last few years that I even became fully aware that this would be a possibility for me. I came out as Transgender to my wife and soon after – everyone else. I chose the name “Leslie” of course.
So I began my transition with clumsy attempts at being the woman I so badly wanted to be. Wig, make-up, clothes. People were kind to me even though I’m sure I didn’t look like I felt inside.
Over the next year, I’ve become more skilled with make-up, my hair has grown to a length & style where I no longer need the wig and I have a sufficient wardrobe to put together an outfit for nearly every situation. But in SO MANY interactions where my I.D. was required, it still said “(birth name)” with a gender marker of “Male” and had a picture of a boy on it. This was extremely embarrassing at first and later an inconvenience or sometimes amusing.
Travelling by air – TSA needs your license. Renting a car, they need the license. Checking into a hotel? License. I got used to the “eye roll.” A customer service agent would address me as “ma’am”, then when they see my I.D. I get the eye roll as they put 2 + 2 together and changed the pronoun to “sir.” Those were inconvenient and mildly embarrassing but to me there were bigger issues.
The biggest was the impact on my confidence. My license, credit cards, Social Security etc. were all reminders of my past life and it bothered me more than I would admit. There was the safety issue – if I were challenged in a ladies restroom and was forced to produce ID as proof that I belonged there, I would be in trouble. It was also difficult to look for work because I live as Leslie full time. If I apply for a job, I present as a female. If I were to get hired, Social Security I feared would kick back the I-9 form and say that there is a conflict, highlighting the gender maker. If I told my new employer I was male, they would likely look at my clothes and make-up and take a pass. This caused me much distress. I felt trapped.
So several months ago, I retained the services of an attorney that specializes in correcting name and gender. I had to fill out a lot of paperwork, get fingerprinted and then wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, I was sent word that my court date would be Friday the 20th! I could barely contain myself! It was finally happening!!
I drove to the court hearing in a nice suit in the pouring rain! I parked a block and a half from the courthouse and half-ran in skirt and heels but got soaked anyway!
No matter. I took the stairs to the 5th floor. I was nearly an hour early. I dried my hair in the ladies room with paper towels and did my best to not look like a drowned rat! My attorney showed up shortly after I did and we learned the judge could see us early! It was a very simple process; “Raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth” they ask a few questions and then the Judge uttered words I’ve waited my whole life to hear: “I have read your petition and am going to grant your request for your name and gender change. From this day forward you will be Leslie Michelle McMurray, a female.”
All I could squeak out was: “Thank you for changing my life” before the tears started.
There was another case she handled before I left, so I sat quietly with tears of joy running down my face. The tears represented much more than pure joy. My thoughts tuned to my mom & dad who I loved so dearly and miss so much – I was surrendering the name they chose for their first-born son. But was receiving (finally) the name they had chosen for me had they known I was female. This meant so very much to me. I truly love my name – and I just couldn’t stop the tears.
After celebrating, I drove home with copies of my new court order. 1st thing Monday morning I was at the DPS (That’s Texan for DMV) to get my new drivers license, then off to Social Security and my bank to get those changed. Then the rest of the day calling credit card companies, even Cost-Co. I’ve been a busy girl.
I hope the feeling comes through loud and clear that I didn’t undertake this lightly. This process is me doing something strictly for me, but I would be wrong to assume this doesn’t affect others. For my mom & dad (who passed many years ago) – I have a message for you:
With all of my heart, I wish you could have known Leslie. Mom especially, I know you would have delighted in having a daughter. I will spend the remainder of my life trying to live up to this name you have chosen for me and that I have cherished all these years. I want to be the kind of woman that would make you proud.