RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Getting Legal


A huge step in transition is to choose a new name reflecting my life and appropriate gender and then going through the steps to make that official.  This is a very significant step as it solidifies who I am and proclaims my new identity.  Even better – I get to choose it !

Here is what I did.  I’ll explain how I came up with my name, the steps I had to take in this state (every state is different so you need to check out yours) and some stories along the way …  I’ll include the gender forms that I used for social security and the state here.

My given name, “Si Fan” (思凡) was given to me in Beijing.  It’s part of a full name they researched and had gotten officially approved (see my Beginnings post).  It’s part of a name that meant “One who thinks differently” – I was an instructor, so this was very special.  I have been using this name as a nickname for almost 10 years.  My middle name is the feminine equivalent of my given name at birth.

My partner and I are going to be married in about 7 months and decided that instead of one of us taking on the others surname, that we would choose a completely new surname – one that we both liked, had meaning to us and represented the culture and place that we have become a part of.

After researching and deciding on my name the next step was to submit the paperwork to the Lt. Governor (the process in my state).  They in turn investigate and if all is ok send back a ‘notice of change of name’ which then has to be published in the paper.  Once the paper sends a notarized affidavit back to the Lt. Governor, he then issues a ‘order of change of name’ that is also notarized.  I ordered 14 originals for all the additional steps I have to take.  However, so far every single place has returned my original – so at this point I still have all 14 !  I sent my gender letters from my endocrinologist and my therapist so that the state records would be updated and the paper would publish with the correct gender.

In my state, the DMV required that the social security card be updated first.  So I brought my certified name change, the SSI application,  plus the SSI form for gender change (copied below).  As the rules had just changed regarding gender change – the person I was with had to bring in her supervisor in order to figure this out.   They both congratulated me and wished me well in my new role.  I could tell they were sincere and happy.  It was in the federal building here that my partner pulled me into the woman’s public restroom – my first time and almost a catastrophe!  See the bottom of my post on “Using the woman’s restroom“.

Note:  nearly everyone wants to ‘see’ the actual social security card with your new name on it.  They said it would take up to 10 days for it to arrive via mail – but mine arrived about 4 days later.  As far as the social security office is concerned, they said their records were updated as I sat there.  So work, the bank, etc could have called to verify that very afternoon.  However, they all wanted to physically ‘see’ that card and I had to wait until it arrived.

The DMV required a form which I had filled out before hand but which they changed and I had to fill it all out all over again when I got there.  I also had to present the order of change of name.  They have a form for gender change that I had both my endocrinologist and my therapist sign.  However, this form said “State Identification” and not “Drivers License”.  It was the only form they had for this ….  Being bureaucrats they had to send this up the line all the way to the state capital as I waited.  I had suggested that I could simply cross out the “State Identification” and write “State Drivers License” and after 45 minutes of waiting, the instructions came back: “have her cross off “Identification” and write in “Drivers License” and sign under the change” — ack !! They take your picture at the site and print a 60 day temporary license.  They told me to call if I didn’t receive my license within 30 days.  30 days – ack!  I received it in the mail about 10 days later.   The person that was helping me was the supervisor.  I told her I was sorry to take so much time.  At this point she turned from being the typical stone cold supervisor to a smiling, happy person.  After we were finished we hugged across the counter and she wished me happiness in my new life!   Just like the social security card, some places will not accept the temporary license – they need to see the real license which means I had to wait for that to arrive before I could proceed.

At this point I now have my social security card and my new drivers license, both with my new name and my gender changed to female.

My work place required a photocopy of the ‘real’ social security card plus the certified order of change of name and I included the statements from my endocrinologist and my therapist for gender change as well (I gave them copies of the forms I used for the social security).  Work is a bit tricky – I have to go back and check everything to make sure all was changed correctly.  This includes health care, retirement accounts, 401k, work email address, web access to HR and the state, directories and listings, dental coverage, eye coverage, and FHS co-pay.  Basically look at your benefits and coverage plans and make sure all of them are changed.  Since I work on a different island than where HR is located, I also had to make sure the separate listing at our facility here were also changed – including the name on the door and phone.

The bank I use required the actual social security card, the real drivers license (not the temp), and the certified order for change of name.  As the license had my new gender on it – that was all that was needed to change my gender.  Make sure all your checking, savings and other accounts are changed and order new checks with new names on them.  One tricky part of this, is that my payroll check was coming in and no one knew if the change at work would be reflected in time for the next payroll.  So I had the bank put a note in the file just in case.  Of course any outstanding checks could be of concern as well.  In my case, I had my partner write all the checks for a month before, even though the bank assured me all would be accepted ……

We know the customer representative at the bank.  About two weeks before the change of name, I had been in the bank presenting as a woman and waved at her as we walked out.  Her face lite up with a huge smile!  She sort of knew I was transitioning but I had never officially told her.  So when my partner and I came in to do the name and gender change, she was so helpful and happy.  We had a huge hug afterwards!!

When changing your name you have to be very careful about timing and have alternative solutions in place – just in case.  A good example of this is an airplane trip we are taking in a few weeks.  We had to make the reservations long ago in order to get good tickets at a good price, but that meant using my old name because this was before the name change was even submitted.  I had called the airline to find out what I had to do and what options were available.  If my name change came in before my flight – I could simple go to the local airport counter and present my documentation and they would change it.  Worst case, if my name change came through at the last minute, I could use my passport (they suggested to not change that until after).  As it turns out, I had enough time to have the ticket changed – both name and gender.  The woman behind the counter was the supervisor and was able to get everything changed.  She was going to charge me both for a name change and a ticket change, but after working with me on all this (lots of calls to her supervisor and the main office) she told me she would not charge me.  She was wonderful – she stayed to help me even though everyone else was closing up and leaving.  When finished, I reached over to shake her hand and thank her – she grabbed my hand with both of hers, came over and hugged me and we had a tearful goodbye and good wishes — so wonderful!

Because we booked this ticket using a different (from the airline) booking agent – I went back to their website and made sure all the changes were reflected.  I also noticed that my seat assignments were missing and I had to redo those.  It pays to always double check on any or all changes!

I’m not sure what it is, but so far everyone has been extra warm hearted and helpful during this process.  I know it takes two to tango and I very happy for all the good wishes and extra support everyone has shown me.

I have also changed my email, (kept my old email addresses but have them forwarding everything to my new address) created new facebook, linkedin, twitter, youtube and pinterest accounts and invited all my friends to these new accounts.  I also changed my cell phone.

What’s left?  Well, insurance, car titles, utility bills (electric, cable, internet), magazine subscriptions, societies and clubs I belong to.  I have a separation agreement that is being converted to a divorce.  The other state involved just needs the order for change of name certification for that.

Which leaves the birth certificate.  If I would have been born in this state – all would have been taken care of automatically.  However, I was born in a different state.  I will be sending the change of name order, but I need to do additional research on what they require for gender change.  They do have the capability to ‘impound’ the original birth certificate which basically means I was always Sifan !  I’ll edit this post and update this with what happens.

I’ll close with a very important point:  because some places require the actual documents and other places take time to get you these documents – there is always going to be a transition time when you are half and half – both names.  If you need to prove who you are (airport security, traffic stop, etc), you need to carry a) photo id b) something to connect your two names.  In my purse, I carry a certified copy of the order of change of name along with my old work id (picture id) and my new drivers license (picture id).  I also carry letters from my doctors and therapist stating both names and my new gender.

This was my experience, in this state, under the conditions I stated above.  You need to research and plan your legal name changes under your specific conditions but I hope this gives you some ideas and things to think about to make yours smooth and less hassles.

With much aloha,


Form for Social Security gender change:

(Physician’s Address and Telephone Number)
I, (physician’s full name), (physician’s medical license or certificate number), (issuing U.S. State/Foreign Country of medical license/certificate), am the physician of (name of patient), with whom I have a doctor/patient relationship and whom I have treated (or with whom I have a doctor/patient relationship and whose medical history I have reviewed and evaluated).
(Name of patient) has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender (specify new gender, male or female).
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the forgoing is true and correct.
Signature of Physician
Typed Name of Physician

Using the Woman’s Restroom

Of course a major issue for a transsexual is which restroom to use and when to start or switch to using it.  For me this issue ranked up there along with ‘pass-ability’ in my decision as to when to start living full time as a woman (starting my RLE – real life experience).  And this is an especially important issue to be addressed and solved at the workplace where we spend most of our day!

There comes a point where we have progressed in our transition (hormone treatment) that we can no longer effectively hide our ‘blossoming’ changes and it becomes harder and more difficult to continue using the restroom we had been using but at the same time we are not passable enough to use the restroom of our target gender.  What a conundrum!

Let me explain my situation first, as this is a bit unique.  A number of events all came together to make this a bit easier for me than what one would normally expect.  As they say, your mileage will vary, but some of what transpired here may be of use to others that are transitioning…

I’m just starting my 4th month on HRT and my body has changed beyond where I can effectively ‘hide’ it.  The best way to describe the situation at work is to say I am in a department that is somewhat out of place in the building where we are located – meaning we are a bit isolated.  I had come out to everyone in my department about 1/2 year ago – but not to others in the building as there is little interaction.    That all changed, as recently we had an all building ‘sensitivity’ training during which I was asked to explain the difference between gender and birth sex, gender presentation and sexual orientation (this was planned….).  This of course effectively ‘outed’ me and of course that is what I wanted and was the perfect setting (sexual harassment and workplace violence training – with our top lawyers giving the training).

At this same time my name change and gender change documents came through (see “Getting Legal“).  I am now officially named and have a gender of female in my state, my drivers license, social security and at my employment and my bank.

All of these events came together: progressing to a point where I needed to present as a woman full time, fully out to everyone in my department and to everyone in the building, the decision to start my RLE and all my documentation is changed – name and gender.

What was left to resolve was the restroom issue!  I was counseled to find a way to manage this independently as our HR is on another island.  So a couple of the women from my department went around and talked to each women in the building individually, specifically regarding the restroom.  I had talked to the different managers at our site to make sure this was ok.  I would then go around and say hi to each person and make sure they were ok.  All was well ….  This was about 2 or 3 weeks ago.

Then last week, one of the women, who is there only part time and usually during the morning when I’m not there, went to one of the managers and requested that the upstairs woman’s restroom be converted to ‘unisex’ with a lock.  Last Thursday was the first chance I had to say hi to her and she politely told me she requested this and gave me the following reasons:

– if we didn’t know you ‘from before’ …..

– you (meaning I) might feel uncomfortable if a woman in the next stall is having a period ….

– during public events outside people might be uncomfortable

For one, I’m an elder person – I know/have seen/been there – and how ‘dare’ she speak for me and what I might be uncomfortable with.  As far as outside woman using our facilities, I am 100 % presenting now and using public restrooms where ever I am.  As for knowing ‘who I am before’ – exactly when do you ‘not know’ and it becomes ok?  And finally as for converting that restroom to a ‘unisex’ with a lock – not only is that an inconvenience to others here, but in one way it’s sort of a slap on my face – a denial of who I am.  Furthermore, my documentation now states I’m female, I have started my RLE and it would be even stranger if I were to use the men’s room at this point!

Well, independently and unknown to me, the managers she went to, consulted with their higher authorities and came up with a brochure from Lambda Legal regarding a transsexual’s restroom rights and not only posted it on the main bulletin board but hand delivered a copy to this woman!

Now, my recommendation based on all this, is not to handle this internally, no matter what the situation is with your HR.  But to ask/demand that HR put out something official stating their policies.  Now, I do admit, I work for the state and there are policies that cover this and protect me – so you need to find that out for where you work first.  But after that – this is HR’s job, not mine or yours.  I am very grateful to the women who stood up for me, that fought for me and for the managers for taking action when they needed to.


I’ll close with a cute story and an explanation of the accompanying image.   Back a few weeks ago when I first started my RLE we went down to the federal building to change my social security name and gender.  We parked in their garage and took the elevator up.  When we got out my partner asked if I had to use the restroom – not expecting what she was up to I said yes.  Then before I knew what was happened, she grabbed my hand and yanked me into the woman’s restroom which I had not noticed that we were standing in front of!  This was my first use of a public woman’s restroom…  It gets better:  we are using the stalls next to each other and she moves her foot over to touch mine – under the partition.  We played footsie in the woman’s bathroom stalls !  The she asks if I have my cell phone camera and states it would be great to have a picture of this.  It gets worse:  just as I take the picture, there is a sound as if someone else entered the restroom – then my phone decides it wants to use the ‘flash’ – ack !  So now I’m facing the situation where this is the first time in a public woman’s restroom, someone else might have just come in there, and I just took a ‘flash’ picture —- in the restroom.   Geeeesh.  Well, no one else was in there except us (must have been some building kind of noise) and here is the picture to prove it !

With much aloha,


Month 3 Summary

This was my most significant month so far as changes go.  So much occurred this last month!

Sifan 20130816

The largest change was starting my RLE (Real Life Experience) – living full time, everywhere as a woman.  The event that triggered this was picking up my partner when she returned home (see my post “A daring surprise for my partner“).  Having my eye brows shaped and my hair styled not only allowed me to more clearly see how I have evolved physically and could finally ‘see’ the woman in me starting to bloom on the outside, but it also gave me the confidence to go full time.

This coupled with the sensitivity training at work (see “The Girl Card” where I was asked to explain transgender terms to our entire staff) gave me the opportunity to fully come out to the rest of the people at work.  This of course led to the “Use the woman’s restrooms” post.  Another major ordeal was “getting legal“.  I’ve been busy posting this month too!

I had planned to start my RLE in November as that would have been 6 months HRT and from the research I had done, that seemed like the proper time for a lot of the physical changes to have occurred and theory was I would be more passable.

However, I did not count on these changes happening sooner.  So much so that I had somewhat the opposite problem:  I could not hide the changes that were occurring!  My hair is longer, my breasts are larger (they show even if I bind them) and my face and body shape are changing as well.   When I had my brows shaped and my hair styled – poof – I was over the edge.

Granted – I do not consider myself ‘passing’:  my hair has a long way to go, my face is better – very little black hair left because of laser (but now I can see the little white hairs) and I have a long way to go with voice training.  I am getting a lot of hugs and well wishes, as I mentioned in the “getting legal” post.

So, I’m 100% living as myself – a woman.  The change in my day to day feelings and my interactions with others, especially at work, are wonderful.  I’m able to let go of the male facade and just be.  It might seem silly, especially to someone that does not have gender issues and it’s hard to explain, but the type of freedom and exuberance I feel is so great.  It has to do both with me internally, but also with society and how I’m seen and for the most part accepted.  To authentically be one’s self and to be seen and treated as such (and in a number of my relations – to be admired for taking these step) is an awesome thing.  I am very happy and content that I undertook this and have come this far with so many wonderful people around me.

Ok, now for the details on what has changed in this last month – I’ll break this down into external and internal this time:

Externally there have been a number of significant changes.  Most obvious are my breasts.  One of the signs they are growing is that the tube dress I like (has optional straps) I can wear without the straps now – it stays up just fine.  But they are hurting as they grow (ummm more like soreness – not a really bad kind of hurting).  I will get spots that become sore and a day later I’m larger there.  I started on the outsides, then they grew above the nipples, then on the insides (I have cleavage now), and then on the bottoms.  Then they were very sore directly under the nipples.  Each starts with a hardness, almost a lump (got me worried – but my doctor said it was ok and expected) that was sore and that slowly softened over a few hours and by the next day I was larger in that area.  Right now I have this hardness deep under each nipple and this is the sorest I’ve been so far.

Another big change regarding my breasts are their – ummm, how to say this politely …., they are ‘stimulatable’ … as my partner aptly proved one day – I darn near levitated ….  I had no sensations there before, so this is a big and obvious change (obvious to me…).

I’ve been losing weight and that plus the effects of hormones are having an effect.  My tummy is flatter and my bottom is ever so slightly filling out resulting in the appearance of some small but noticeable curves.  My woman’s jeans and pants are fitting very nicely now and some tops are able to emphasize those curves!

My face is starting to change as well.  I can just notice a difference from before.  It is losing its hard masculine features and everything is getting much softer.

Shaving:  legs and arms I shave about once a week, tummy and chest about every two day and I shave my face about every two days as well – more often depending on what I’m doing that day.

I’m not using cosmetics except for filling in my eye brows, coloring the slight grey/silver hair in two small spots by my ears and sometimes I’ll wear lipstick.  Daily I will blow dry my hair in such a way to give it lift, style it a bit and set it with hair spray.

Internally this is the first month where I have noticed any changes and ummmm, others have too.  I was always over reactingautomatically accommodating – to a fault.  Since my problems coming out to my oldest son, I have eased up on that quite a bit.  I no longer accommodate but now will openly question situations.  My partner used the word ‘bitchy’ at one point and ‘your hormones are acting up’, but then explaining that I’m being more sensitive and at some times ‘touchy’, reacting more strongly than the situation would seem to warrant – and then she added: “like a woman having her period”!    Others at work have been more diplomatic but basically said that more often I’m discussing things, being more assertive, questioning more and not being overly accommodating as I used to be.

The other internal change is harder to quantify.  Before I could sense when I felt ‘male’ or did a ‘male’ type of thing.  That has completely gone away.  I suppose it’s one of those things that are best seen – perhaps only seen – with hind sight.  All I can say is that testosterone, like estrogen, is a very very powerful agent.  I’m not sure which of these or all of these internal changes are due to what, but I can definitely say it is such a huge relief being done with testosterone (more accurately:  being on a low to normal female level).  I’m having a hard time trying to find the words to describe this.  It’s like there is no longer this need or drive to be alpha, to know everything, to solve everything or to be the one everyone looks to.  I now feel like I can rest in my true nature – a supporter, a friend, a confidant and a nurturer.  I love being protected, being taken care of, having someone hold the door open for me and just the smiles and hugs of companionship with other women.  In one way, it is so much a load off my shoulders and in another it is just so wonderful to be accepted for who I am – my real authentic self.

With much aloha,


A Daring Surprise for my Partner


My partner went to the mainland for two weeks to settle and close out some old accounts.  She will be coming back in a couple of days.  I was trying to think of something special to do at the airport when she gets off the plane.

For me, this last week has been an awesome week, both at work and elsewhere.  We had training in sexual harassment in which I was asked to explain gender – all the women from my department surrounded me in that training and supported me.  For the first time I dressed feminine at work and was received well.  The ‘alpha’ male was out on vacation when we had a number of critical failures at the observatory – another woman and myself were able to fix these and be back on sky each night.  When he came back to work he commented (in a very nice way) that the “two wahine’s” had everything under control (wahine = woman in Hawaiian).  That was given as a compliment, he was proud of us.

I met with my therapist and discussed these events.  We both agree that perhaps I will move up my RLE (real life experience – living as a woman full time) from Nov. to now, given that my confidence and comfort are getting to a point where I feel I could handle that.  With the help of two of the women at work we addressed the remaining issues (like restroom usage) with all the other women in the building.  My boss said he will give an all hands party whenever I would like in order to officially announce/celebrate my coming out.

So, what you may ask, does all this have to do with my partner coming home …..

Before she left, we both looked at this gorgeous long black dress, halter top but with a plunging neckline and it has silhouetted flowers stitched in down one side in white.  Well of course I bought it after she left !  For my birthday she had given me a silver jeweled key on a necklace which goes beautifully with this dress.  I also bought an open sweater to cover my shoulders and upper arms plus small hoop silver earrings to go with the necklace.  I wore this to my therapist appointment to get her opinion on the feasibility of meeting my partner at the airport – as in walking through a crowded airport and waiting for her to de-plane!

So we talked about my level of comfort and also backup plans (like having something more androgynous in the car and change if I feel like it).  But she did not see any reason after discussing this with me why I shouldn’t go forward – in fact she encouraged me.  Not only that, but she called up a friend of hers that will do my makeup and hair on that day!

For me, this will be ‘huge’.  Already, this was my first time purchasing a dress and sweater by myself, first pair of earrings and the biggest first of all – first time ever going out in public (an airport – geeeesh) in a dress – a very beautiful dress.  Not only that, we are going out to eat at a fancy restaurant after.

For two weeks now, I have been debating whether or not to do this.  But at the same time preparing and getting everything ready.  Given the events of this week, I feel another turning point has been reached.  My comfort at work, at being able to be the ‘authentic’ me – communicating from my true being and having others respond to me – as a woman – has brought me around full circle to the ‘why’ I am transitioning:  to be authentic to my being, to have my outward and inward selves aligned/congruent and to be comfortable in my existence.

I can not post this until after my partner arrives because she reads these posts!  That means the last part of this will be written and posted after she arrives and you (and I) will see how this went….


Nothing is ever simple – her plane was canceled and she was rescheduled for the next day.  I had to quickly reschedule all my appointments (some with people that were very busy and had fit me in to begin with).  Then the next day, her plane was delayed and she missed the 2nd flight to Honolulu, pushing out her arrival time from 5 pm until almost 9 at night.

Two of the women at work plus my therapist and the woman that hosts our transsexual’s support group gave me amazing support.  One woman at work wrote: “whenever I do something over the top – I feel it, I own it, I be it – because we ‘can’ ” !  That was the best advice and the perfect advice I needed.

One of them paid for me to have that makeover (as it turns out, two of them knew this person).  I went in at 3 pm and had a great time with a wonderful woman that did an awesome makeover.  Not only colored and styled my hair, but waxed my eyebrows, eye makeup and facial and lips.  This gave me the confidence to go through with the rest.

Well, the hardest part was coming home and waiting for the time to go to the airport.  My partner called to say she had landed in Honolulu and was just waiting for her third flight – to Maui. Still, it seemed like ages before I could leave for the airport.  As I was traveling down the highway, about 15 mins before she was to land I saw a plane coming from the right direction.  I watched it land as I drove down the mountain knowing it was her plane, but getting worried that now I might be late getting there!  Turns out her plane was early.  I parked and was just getting the leis out of their boxes when she called me from inside the airport – she was coming down stairs to the main hall so I had to hurry and get in there.

As I crossed the road in front of the airport, the light was about to change, so a policeman used his light wand to keep the traffic stopped until I made it across – nodding to me as I pasted him (giggles, that was a first).

As I entered the main hall I saw her just starting to walk towards me so I veered off and stood on the side of the entrance into the main baggage hall as she came up.   When she came up to that entrance she was totally surprised and sooo happy!  She couldn’t believe how beautiful I looked (her words), and was amazed at the dress I was wearing.  She said she had seen a woman off in the distance that sort of looked like me!!

The confidence I felt from the makeover carried through the entire time.  I was not nervous walking into a crowded airport, partly due to the rush trying to get there in time.  However, I did notice some looks as this nicely dressed woman (me) reached over to grab two large and heavy suitcases and struggle to get them off the baggage belt!  At least I stayed true to form and struggled (well, they were heavy)!

After struggling to get the luggage into the car (it’s a bit different handling large heavy luggage wearing a long dress) I drove us over to our favorite Thai restaurant and my partner opened to door for me!  The waitress (who knows us from the many times we have eaten there) looks at me and smiles broadly.   We had our favorite appetizer – shrimp in peanut sauce along with a couple of deliciously cold Sing Tao beers.  Lisa had a curry and I had a delicious pork crispy noodle dish.   We had a lot of people smile at us.

When we got home, I noticed I had forgotten to bring up the garbage – ack!  All the careful prep for today and I missed this one item.  So in my beautiful dress I hiked the garbage up.  Now before, I would hide just behind the hedge row up there if a car or if someone came by.  Not anymore!  I now have the confidence and pride to be who I am and I just walked out there!

It’s now four days later – this experience has carried over and continues.  I have now talked to 98% of the people at work, I’m 100% presenting as a woman everywhere, using the woman’s restrooms and have now started my RLE (real life experience) four months earlier than I had planned.  As one of the woman friends at work pointed out – I’ve ‘grown’ beyond what I can hide anyways – might as well come out fully as a woman and “feel it, own it, be it”!

With much aloha,