I legally changed my name on October 21st from Keith to Katherine. It has been a long journey changing my birth name to the name I have been referring to myself as since I was seven years old.
I started out changing my name on social media sites. One of the first places I requested my name change was on Wikipedia back in June. Then it was Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and a host of other things. I couldn’t do it legally until I managed to save up the money to do it.
In early September I printed out all of the paperwork that needed to be filed with the Kane County Circuit Clerk. It wasn’t hard at all for me to find the information that I needed to complete on the internet. The instructions were not hard for me to follow. Yet, I did had to get someone to certify that I was who I said that I was in order for me to get my name changed.
I couldn’t get my mother or father to sign it for me. They both did not approve of what I was doing, especially my mother. My brothers were out of the picture as well. I hardly ever see them at all. I couldn’t get a co-worker to do it, since I wasn’t out about me being a transgender woman at my place of employment yet. I was going to have my therapist complete it for me, but she wasn’t able to do it for professional ethical reasons.
I finally was able to find someone, my nail techincian and esthetician from Trendsetters, the salon that I frequent. I was so over joyed when she said she would do it that I was on the point of tears! I actually filed all of the paper work, paid the fee and obtained a court date before providing the affidavit. I was so afraid that it wasn’t going to happen. I am so thankful that she did that for me.
Everything else leading up to my court date fell into place very easily. I placed my legal announcement in with the Daily Herald and turned in proof that it was done. After that it was just a waiting game. I did pick out a very cute looking skirt and blazer to look half way decent in the court room. I also got my hair highlighted and styled a few days before the court date.
The day finally came. It took me two hours to put on my make-up, style my hair and get into my clothes. Luckily I woke up four hours before I was suppose to see the judge. I arrived with thirty minutes to spare. I checked in with the clerk to let her know I was present. Of course I had to fill out paperwork for that as well. After that was done I just sat quietly near the back of the court room and watched. It was my first time in a court room since I was on a tour of the courthouse when I was in elementary school.
The judge finally came into the court and the police officer called people up to the desk one at a time. I was the last to be called, but I didn’t mind at all. I got to watch all of the lawyers present their cases in front of the judge. I took some mental notes on what I was suppose to do. When I was called up (by my middle name for some reason) I got up in front of him. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. I just greeted him and told him I was requesting my name to be changed. He just looked over the paperwork and asked if had a criminal record. I answered that I did not and was approved. It was so short and simple it almost seemed unreal. After almost forty years of calling myself Katherine it was now my legal name!
As soon as I got my court record signed by the judge proving my now legal name I went off to the Department of Motor Vehicles. I changed my name legally with the county and now I was off to report that to the State. Most importantly I was going to report to the State of Illinois that I wish to be a female.
The line was very short going to the first desk to check in and be queued up in the correct line for what I wanted down. I got up to the person behind the desk and told her that I wanted to change my name on my driver’s license. She asked for the paperwork which I had with me inside an envelope.
As she was typing away on the computer I told her that I also wanted to change my gender. I thought that would get some type of reaction out of her, but it didn’t. She asked if I had paperwork for that. I took out the letter from my doctor at Howard Brown Health Center. She looked over it and told me that she would be right back. She walked into someone’s office who I assumed was the supervisor’s office. Within a few minutes she came out and told me that he would like to see me.
I was ushered to his office and introduced myself to him – as Katie. He didn’t ask me anything at all. All he said was that he would process my request himself. We went through all of the other information on my record to make sure it was up to date and accurate. I didn’t think about it at the time, but he actually bumped me ahead of the line of the others that were sitting down waiting. I guess that is the special rights the conservative right was talking about!
Nothing eventful happened after that. I paid the fee to update and get a new ID. Got my picture taken and signed for it. When I was done I looked down at the new card in my hand. The first thing I saw was my picture. It didn’t look too bad at all! Then in bold letters was my name “Katherine Walter”. My glanced down at the bottom and there it said “female”.