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Legally me (and some notes on how)


This past Friday, I finally received my new birth certificate with my name and my true gender on it. Legally me and somehow, way more than I expected, validating.

So, in my stomping grounds (Ontario), the process for changing your name and gender marker is pretty straightforward if you were born here. Basically, you fill out a mountain of forms for your name, get a guarantor to sign that it is correct, get it notarized, and then submit it. By itself, this process will result in a name change certificate and a new birth certificate. If you want to change your gender marker, you can do so at the same, and probably should. For that, you need a doctor's note to sign off that this is appropriate and a guarantor to validate. After that, it takes about 6 - 8 weeks to process.

Some things to be aware of...

  1. It's not free. There is a charge for both (though gender change was free until the end of April), so you will need to provide payment. Fees have been a moving target, so check the Ontario website.
  2. It will take a few weeks to get your documents once they process your payment. It gets sent to be registered and printed, so that takes a bit of time. I was a little more than 3 weeks.
  3. Seems like, in chatting with a few friends, that you can expect at least one bounce back from the government. My instincts tell me it's to test you...
  4. Get original signatures on everything, including the note from the doctor. This is why I got bounced back, much to the surprise of my doctor. My suggestion is get them to sign with a ballpoint pen, ideally in blue. Leave no room for them to assume it is printed on a printer.
  5. They send the two documents in seperate envelopes. Mine arrived on the same day though.
  6. You need to update other ID quickly, once you have the documents. As I understand it, driver's license and health card should be updated within 6 days!
  7. This is just the start... At last count, I had more than 25 government, banking, and service providers to update.

Once you send it off, and I recommend doing that from a service office if you can or via registered mail if you can't, then you wait. It's an anxious time, I'll be honest, because it will make you feel like your life is on hold. My family can tell you how I was with this! I had a couple of weeks of being disappointed at the mailbox and it was tough, tears started more than once as part of me kept feeling it would never come. It will come.

My emotional reaction to that moment was quite a rollercoaster. First was the moment of elation, I literally jumped for joy at that moment. On opening I was suddenly overwhelmed by this feeling of finally being here and I cried, both with relief and with happiness. It was there that I felt the strength of validation and I didn't expect a couple of pieces of government paper to do that, but they did. Oh they definitely did. It was a pure moment of gender euphoria.

Obviously, I told my world as fast as I could. That's not an excitement you can contain! Sadly, harder to celebrate as I would like in this pandemic, it's cost all of us many celebrations, but the best part of social media really is about the ability to share joy. 

So, now, I have a lot more paperwork to do and, not surprisingly, I'm not unhappy about it. I plan to take notes and I will provide a future page on my experience with that and tips to speed it up.

We all need
some measure of comfort
the safety of a cocoon

But I remind myself
that change is good,
that I cannot spend
my whole life
being a caterpillar

that courage
wears butterfly wings
and the sky has never looked
more inviting.

– Sabina Laura

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