Taking the license out of the envelope, I examined it long and close. Despite the usual poor quality of many drivers license photos, I'm pleased. I'm glad that before going into the DMV office I had remembered to freshen up my red lipstick and black eyeliner. I also blew dry my long hair to rid it of frizz that morning.
I was sitting at the kitchen counter viwing it, and I'm thinking "not a bad likeness." It took a minute or two to sink in. I saw the image on the computer screen at the Department of Motor Vehicles when I had it taken two weeks ago, but it was only for a few seconds.
At least it looks like me now. The "me" I've been for the past year. The "me" I was only occasionally before that. Much better than the male image, with its short thinning hair, at least to me, although both faces look genuinely happy.
In my wallet is a section with a clear plastic window. I place the new license on top of the old one and slide them in, so the new one can be seen when my wallet is opened. Funny that I kept the male one. Why didn't I just toss it or put it away in a drawer. Perhaps on a deeper level I'm trying to hold on to aspects of my prior male self. What aspects? My analytical skills? My assertiveness? My get-things-done way? My creativity? No, not really. I don't feel these traits have faded, perhaps even improved as a female. Less frenetic. A better listener. More expressive of my sensitivity. Maybe keeping the old license represents a way to hold onto some relationships with loved ones and certain friends who may be slipping away. The thought fades.
Back to the mail on my kitchen counter. Yet, I keep thinking of my transition, symbolized by these licenses, and of my not removing the one of Frank when I put the new one of Fran on top of it. Perhaps I'm okay being two-spirited, as the Native Americans call it. After all doesn't the term "transgender" encompass not only the transition from one gender to another but also being in two genders at the same time?
I leave the mail and move to the center hall and look at myself in the mirror, fixing my hair, turning my head to see myself from different angles. I say "Hi, there!" to myself, testing my voice and watching my lips. Lately, I'm trying to suppress my masculine side by layering on extra feminine gestures, girly clothes, and a more delicate way of speaking and communicating.
At the moment, my ambition is to be always taken for a female. Currently, it is about 90% of the time but within the 10% are a few occasions of "Yes, sir" -- especially over the phone. It's bit jarring. I must say, though, I am getting many " Hi, Miss, can I help you?" which is sure better than "Hello, mame."
Back in the kitchen, I look at the older photos on the refrigerator that include me as a male with my family and with my friends. I note I look better now, even younger, at least to myself. Maybe it's my youthfulness of spirit that is causing me to look younger and be mistaken for a woman at least ten years younger than my actual age. There are many positives to be a M-to-F transgender person, and feeling and looking younger are two of them.
It was two weeks ago when I decided I should finally get my drivers license photo updated for my new gender. This time the trigger was an upcoming professional examination requiring a photo ID. In the past, sometimes when I presented the Frank license, I'd get a smile or a questioning look, possibly wondering why I was holding on to a prior self. Each time it happened, usually at security check points in Manhattan office buildings or airports, I would promise myself I would take care of the changes that should be part of my transition. Another thing I need to change is my legal name. In most communications and on many records, I have already lost the "k" and went from using Frank to Fran. But there is stickiness to "Frank." My friend Paul reminded me that my automatic outgoing short name is still Frank on my AOL account, and no matter how I played with settings I can't seem to change it.
Are recipients of my email thinking that I am not serious about the permanence of my transition? And several agencies and companies -- like the IRS and banks -- have me officially listed as Frank, albeit with some addressee named Fran (Francis). More to do's on my transition list.
Two women and a man helped me at the DMV when I got my photo taken. All three seemed extra friendly and helpful when they realized I am in transition. Two gave me internet printouts on the simple steps for transgender people to change genders on their license.
In one set of steps, a psychiatrist or psychologist needs to certify in a letter that the person is now the other sex. In the other case, the language is less restrictive by saying that the person has to be "mainly" in the gender being claimed. The DMV is not usually known as progressive and/or efficient. However, they've has simplified the process of late, which might be a sign of an increasing acceptance of transgender people.
In [this] my first year as a full-time female, I have been amazed at not only how caring and accepting people have been, but also helping and generous. Or, perhaps more fuller expression leads to fuller acceptance leads to better lives for all.
For now my license's photo is correct but it reads Frank and M (for male). Before long, it will be Fran and F (for female). For those in transition, a license change is an important one. I wonder sometimes why its important, and whether its just important to me, if not those that see it.
I can see the need for the name on a license being a person's legal name -- to prevent scams and false identifications, as well as birth dates to screen for minors and prove aged-based entitlements. But why gender?
Now that I think of it, perhaps I won't change my license for my gender but rather leave the M. After all, I once was a cute energetic baby son, a handsome loving groom and a sensitive caring father. Perhaps, on my license I should just add an F with a black fine-point Sharpie and make it "MF." What do you think?