Chasing the Paper Dragon

Changing my name seemed like such a huge mountain to climb, but upon reaching the summit I realized I was merely on a foothill before the mountain to come. Social Security was my first stop upon getting my name change paperwork completed. My first try was a failure, they were very helpful and kind but the doctor’s letter was where things fell apart. There are requirements in the letter that must be met. These are as follows:

  • Must show at least the NAME and DATE OF BIRTH of the Patient.
  • Must be a Treatment Record. Medical Bills cannot be accepted/certified as “ID”
  • Process of Certification for the Treatment Record:
    • Ink/Embossed Seal or Stamp of the Clinic/Hospital;
    • Ink Date Stamp showing the date the treatment record was certified;
    • Ink Signature of the holder/keeper of the treatment record.
  • There MUST be a statement in the letter stating “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the foregoing is true and correct.”

Without these things, you will be wasting your time at the Social Security office. My doctor is at a clinic, so when I ask for a letter it can be days or weeks and it’s in Asheville proper, which is a very long and annoying drive, traffic-wise. This meant I had to ask for a second letter from my doctor, which took a week or so to get back and hope was done according to the governments wishes. Luckily, my doctor was conscientious and got with their transgender liaison who helped her to write the letter correctly with the correct fields within it.

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash


My second time at Social Security was testing my nerves. I was seen almost immediately, but the woman seemed unsure of what to do. She, in fact, told me that she was unsure of how to do the name/gender change, but that she was going to pass me to a person who did these all the time. So, I went back out into the waiting room, it was about 20 minutes later and the woman came back out to assure me that they hadn’t forgotten me. 20 minutes more and I was called to a window where a gentleman took my documents and started looking them over. The woman from before came and sat down next to him and he trained her as he was doing my changes. He was able to get everything done pretty quickly. My doctors letter was good for him and so was the name change paperwork. I had the foresight to bring my passport, which was good because he asked me for my CRBA (Consular Report of Birth Abroad), as I was born in Germany. I didn’t have it with me, but the passport was acceptable. This complete, I just had to wait for my SS card to come in the mail. It’s true that in 48 hours I should be in the system so that the DMV could see my information and issue me a name/gender change on my drivers license, however what the man at the SS office said made sense. If I go there without my card in hand, they can say whatever they like when I get there, like “I don’t see you in the system”. At least with the card in hand, it reduces the risk of that and of wasting my time. Five days later, I received my SS card in the mail. It was also my first piece of mail ever that used my real name. For me it was a momentous occasion, filled with squeals and jumping. Not so much for my wife and our dog who looked at me like I was crazy.

Photo by Nicole Harrington on Unsplash

Having my SS card in hand allowed me to get my drivers license done. So, I took my social security card, completed form DL-300 (NC), my name change declaration and my current drivers license to the Brevard, NC DMV office. I arrived about 30 minutes before they opened and there was already a small line formed, 8 children who were getting drivers tests. I had told work that I would be late or not there at all this day, just in case so I wasn’t worried about the line. Once the place opened and I got my number, I sat down and played on my phone until I was called, which took about an hour and a half, which isn’t bad at all. There were two employees, but one was dedicated to only doing drivers tests and the gentleman who helped me was doing everything else. I gave him all my paperwork and while he was processing it all, he mentioned that I could get my real ID while we were doing this, I just needed something showing my residence, usually a couple of pieces of mail and my birth certificate. I didn’t have either, but he worked with me and we used my passport I had been carrying around in my purse since the SS office and my truck registration form. The man, sorry I didn’t get his name, took my photo and processed it all in about 15 minutes and I was out of the door.

Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

I have to say that though it is an arduous process, getting a name changed and updating the gender, and that I live in a predominantly conservative area, everyone has been very helpful and sweet. In fact, I have found I have more issues in Asheville than I have in Brevard or Hendersonville, odd I know. I still have things to do, changing a mortgage, both vehicles, credit cards, passport and birth certificate, but I will knock them down one at a time and not kill myself trying to get it all done at once. I also find that I feel more and more happy as each item gets completed, I feel more validated, more at peace.

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