Greatest (T)its

Dear Readers,

I’ve missed you!  I didn’t post these last two Fridays because I’ve been busy with another writing endeavor, one secret at this point, but as the project evolves, I’ll consider some sneak peeks…

I thought, in the meantime, I’d do a top ten list of the most viewed posts.

The Homepage, at 25,800 views, is killing it, and my About Me page was in the top ten as well.  I took those two out of the list below, as to limit to only posts and not pages.

And so without further adieu, let’s start this party off right with…

10. Post-Op Depression: Ugh. Ok…that was a rough start.  Anyway, on to number 9…

9. Photo Comparison: Face Shape on T: Wherein you get the pleasure of gazing upon me.

8. At Home in the Underground: Departures and Returns: Where your hero says goodbye to an old friend.

7. 11 Weeks Post-Op: What a slick baby!

6. Blog Brothers: Some of the dudes I looked to for fraternity and inspiration when I first started this journey.

5. Day Six: First Look at the New Chest, or Parade of Photos! Gross.  But informative!  (Still gross.)

4. Two Weeks Post-Op: You guys are really into the topless pics, you old pervs.

3. The, as it were, titular post.

2. Top Surgery How-To: Compression Vest and Bandages Daily Regiment: Boring.  But if it makes you happy, I’m supportive.

And the number one most visited post, with over a thousand views is…

1. Top Surgery Check List! Hooray!

You have a favorite that didn’t make it on the list?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  Have a favorite trans blog you’d like to inform me of?  Leave it in the comments!

Thanks for reading, friends, and be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

Miss Me?

Hello there!

I have been busy visiting family in Ohio, and working on the creation of some trans-friendly policies for my workplace.  That, in addition to a little chapbook I am trying to finish and my regular schedule of avoiding shit I have to do and well, I just wandered off for a while.  But here I am, with a mini-post.

First, drumroll please…

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Yup, I got my social security card in the mail, so now I can change my name at work.  One of my student loan companies changed my middle name, but refused to change my first name with only a new ID.  They wanted to see the judgment oder too, which would be fine if the woman on the phone hadn’t told me the reason they were willing to change my middle name was because “married women often change their middle name to their maiden name, so [they] only require a state issued ID for that.”  But if you’re not some straight lady changing her last name, well, then, you can submit all kinds of additional information and wait.  Douches.  Privileged douches.  Ah well, the SS card is really the most important thing, and for that I am pumped.

And, for the record, this is what not shaving for six days will get me…

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That stubble and 2.25 will get me on the Red line.

Hey, tell me, how are you enjoying the fall?  I am leaving the windows open and sniffing the breeze like my cat.  Autumn makes me feel invincible.

As always, be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

2nd Birthday

Guess what my new state-issued ID calls me…

A New Man

Portions have been blurred to protect my sexy identity.

This morning I had my court date at Daley Center, and it was crazy easy.  I was nervous  because I knew nothing about the judge, and he could deny my request, and all that money would have been for nothing and I would be stuck with my girly birth name.

We got to the court room early, and waited outside for Hunter, the TJLPI volunteer who was going to sit with me and be legal support.  He’s not a lawyer, but he has been though the name change process himself, and was familiar with the proceedings.

There was one other person there, a woman trying to change her name, and her situation put mine in perspective.  She hadn’t filled out her paperwork.  She couldn’t remember how to spell her name, and was uncertain what year she was born in.  Watching her in front of the judge was just heart wrenching.  The judge, thankfully, was very kind.  He tried to help her, and clearly wanted to grant her request, but as he put it, “What kind of judge would grant a petition to someone who can’t verify their own name, or birthdate, or birth place?”  She was obviously mentally unstable, and I was thankful for Hunter and the judge this morning.  They both were really kind, treated her respectfully, and tried their best to help her–she just didn’t have all the necessary information.  Oh, and some other dude there, who seemed very much of sound mind and body, didn’t even bring any paperwork with him: he just showed up to court empty handed and in blue jeans–dafuck is wrong with people?

When my number was called (there were only a handful of us in the court room–this room was for name change petitions only), I approached the bench and was sworn in.  But the swearing in was for naught: the judge looked at my petition and judgment order, my birth certificate and xeroxed copy of my state ID, then glanced up at me and said, “Well, this all appears to be in order,” and then indicated that I should go sit back down.

So I did.

The judge got up and left.  The bailiff declared that court was in recess.  I sat in awkward silence, not sure what was happening or what signal I was waiting for.  A few minutes later the clerk called my case number again, wrote “ok to certify” on the bottom of my petition, said, “Here ya go,” and handed it back to me.  And that was it.  Elias Michael was born.

Hunter, Kae, and I went down a few floors to get the judgment order certified.  We had to get multiple copies certified because places like the Social Security Administration and the DMV won’t take some broke ass xerox copy.  They want the real deal:

Embossed like a boss.

Embossed like a boss.

After paying ten bucks a piece, I had multiple uber legit state documents proving my new legal name is, well, legal.

So we walked across the street to the Thompson Center, which in Chicago is a super futuristic mall with a food court and DMV in the basement.

From the ground up: Philip K. Dick's DMV of the future.

From the ground up: Philip K. Dick’s government office of the future.

After the first clerk refused to accept my printed-from-the-internet electric bill as proof of residency, and the second clerk got all lippy in my face about shit he didn’t understand, I finally talked to someone that treated me like a person.  He was totally cool, said my electric bill was a fine piece of corroborating evidence of my residence, and so thoroughly understood where I was coming from that as he said “Now, Elias,” he pointed down at my gender marker and asked, “is this changing today too?”  I said no, and he said, “Oh, that’s fine.  We get you guys in here all the time.”  And suddenly I felt much more at ease.  I’m not happy with my picture on my ID, but no one is.  What’s important is the name.

So of course the legal name change is just the tip of the ice berg.  Now I have to change my name with:

-Student Loan Companies

-Utilities

-Credit Card Companies/Banks

-Previous Colleges

-The Public Library

-The IRS

-My Landlord

-Credit Reporting Agencies

-My Veterinarian

-My Oncologist/Other Doctors

-Netflix

-Amazon

-The Sun Magazine (my one and only magazine subscription)

And the Social Security administration for a new SS card.  And that, in turn, is what I need to change my name with my employer.  Oh, and I’m sure lots of other places I’m forgetting.

But, all in all, today was a good day, a success, and there was a nice cool breeze that came along with it.

In closing, my first birthday:

Gangsta.

Gangsta.

And my second:

Birthday 2.0 comes with a hot  girlfriend, and a better hair cut than 1.0.

Birthday 2.0 comes with a hot girlfriend, and a better hair cut than 1.0.

Cheers, and be nice to yourselves!
Your Pal Eli

Legal Name Change in IL: Some Tips

So, last week I* went to the Daley center and filed some papers and paid a whole lot of money** to get a court date to have my name legally changed.

In Illinois, there are multiple legal-type forms to fill out, multiple steps to take, and the whole process is a little intimidating.  I’m a baby, and so I would have been pretty scared if it wasn’t for…drumroll please….The Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois!

Yeah, for real: the last Friday of every month, there are FREE LAWYERS, courtesy of TJLP, hanging out in the Daley Center, just waiting to fill out all my paperwork and help me file it for free.

FOR FREE.

Well, I still had to pay the ridiculous filing costs, to the tune of multiple hundreds of dollars  (for both modesty and clarity sake, see the specifics here).  So if you have lived in Illinois for at least the last six consecutive months, and want to change your name for trans reasons, check this out!

My lawyer, Elizabeth (big thanks to her!), was really friendly: basically she just asked me all the necessary questions (name, SSN, felony status, birthdate, etc), filled out the forms for me, took me up to the counter to do all the filing, took me over to the other counter to publish the change, and all I had to do was shell out the dough.  Ouch.  It burns me up a bit that it costs straight people Target cashier money to change their name when they get married, but it costs me stripper weekend money to change mine to what it should have been in the first place.

Cest la vie.

So my court date is at the end of August, where I will appear and will hopefully have a judge that’s cool with it.  Elizabeth says some judges are hostile: in that case I would ask for a continuance and get another date with a different judge.  She also said some judges are great, and get a boner just thinking about how awesome they are to be so benevolent and understanding of our weird tranny shit.  I just hope mine is over it and bored and says, “whatever you want kid,” and signs my papers.   The best part is that I won’t be alone: TJLP will have a lawyer there waiting to go in with me, and if they notice trouble, will let me know.  I have never been in a court room, and am not sure I would know the difference between a hostile judge and a stuffy one.  I’m glad they are there to help us poor trans folks in Illinois.  I hope other states have similar organizations.

Happy 4th friends!

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

* Actually, it was me and K.

**Actually, I could not have paid these fees without a generous grant from my fiancee.

-Eli

How to become exempt from registering with the Selective Service if you are transgender, and why it is so important.

Useful, if not boring, from Your Pal Eli:

The Evolution of Man

Why should I bother? If you do not register with the Selective Service then you will be ineligible for all federal financial aid (Pell Grants, Work Study, etc.), you will not be allowed to hold a government job or receive federal job training, etc. Keep in mind that most universities will not allow you to apply for their other financial assistance programs until you have completed your FAFSA – which also requires SS registration. 

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If you are under 18: Don’t worry about it until you are 18.

If you are 18-25: Request a Status Information Letter showing that you are exempt from registration.

If you are 26+: Once you turn 26 you are no longer allowed to register with the Selective Service – this does NOT mean you are off the hook! You must still request a Status Information Letter proving that you did not break the law, but are…

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After My Howard Brown Appointment

Last week was my doctor’s appointment with the folks at Howard Brown.  The doctor was great, he answered all my questions and was really friendly.  In fact, the whole staff there was very knowledgable and approachable.  All around, if you are in the Chicagoland area, and are looking for gender-related care, Howard Brown is the place to go.

In total, K and I spent about an hour there, while the doctor and I reviewed my health history and talked through all my questions.

I was told that yes, cholesterol and blood pressure and red blood cell count are all negatively affected by testosterone, but the degree to which they are affected varies person to person.  I was told that there are no long-term studies on the affects of HRT for trans folks, and that we just manage the levels and monitor our health as close as we can, and that there doesn’t seem to be any serious complications for most folks in good health.

It was also made clear my energy level and sex drive will go through the roof. 😉

I was reassured that if I went the injectable testosterone route, I would circumvent most of the problems testosterone can cause with my liver, as it goes directly into the blood stream in that case, and is not metabolized through the liver.

On an insurance note: I learned that (at least in IL) if your legal gender is male, insurance companies have to pay for your HRT.  So the lesson here, boys, is to get your gender marker changed before starting HRT (if you can) to save quite a bit of money.

All in all, I was looking to be a good candidate for HRT: a healthy, well-informed adult.

And then, we had to talk about the cancer.

Seems testosterone can put one at an elevated risk for uterine, cervical, and ovarian cancer, if you happen to be the kind of dude that has those organs.  So when I told him I already had uterine cancer, he was concerned.  He would prefer I talk to my oncologist and get her opinion about the risks associated with me in particular and testosterone.

It was deflating, for sure, and I am bracing myself for the seemingly inevitable conversation with my oncologist that will end something like this: “Well, Eli, since I can’t say for certain that testosterone won’t give you ovarian cancer, I can’t tell you to go ahead and start HRT.”

Ugh.

The thing is, with this informed consent model that Howard Brown works under, I don’t think I need anyone’s consent except my own, after I have gone through the steps HB requires in their program.

The problem: I am not going to risk cancer, again, for testosterone.  I choose life of any kind over the most fully realized kind.  I may not ever get to be the man on the outside I feel like on the inside, but I would rather be a dude on the inside and a girl on the outside than a dead dude.  This choice makes me profoundly sad.

I think my brush with cancer was environmentally based, meaning, cancer doesn’t run in my family, and I was taking horrible care of myself at the time.  I think I ran my immune system into the ground with the drinking and smoking and bad eating habits and gave myself cancer.  Now I don’t drink or smoke, I eat very well, and I am at the gym regularly.  I think any cancer testosterone could drum up now, my immune system could readily handle in the early stages.  I think that, but I don’t know it for sure.

And so, pending my oncologist’s approval, I swing between looking forward to starting testosterone, and mourning the lost opportunity to start testosterone.  I was hesitant before, nervous about what changing my gender could do to my body and my brain, and so I thought now was not the right time for me to go on it, if ever.  But now that I know I might not be able to go on it at all not because of my choice, but because of a previous illness, I am deeply saddened by the idea of not going on testosterone.  That sadness speaks to me, it has shown me how right testosterone feels to me, or how right the direction of HRT feels to me.

I am going to make an appointment tomorrow for part two of Howard Brown’s program, where I will meet with a gender specialist and outline my transition plans.  I will also make an appointment with my oncologist.  I am going to see this process through, to whatever end it arrives.

To close on a good note: the doctor also gave me the forms I need to change my name legally, and the number to trans legal aid to help me fill out and file the forms, and to get it done for free. Sweet.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

A Quick Update

Not much has been happening as far as gender-related issues in my life go.  I am still going through the awkward process of getting my friends and family and co-workers using the right pronouns.  It’s hard for them, and hard for me, and to be honest, I chicken out more than I ought to and don’t correct them when they mess up (often, but not always).   With the co-workers at least, part of the problem is that they do it in front of customers, and I just can’t deal with airing my private gender shit in front of strangers, and lots of them.  As for everyone else, I have no excuse other than my yellow belly.

And so, I ignore my blog too, because then I have to go on there and fess up to being a coward.

In related news, now that the election is over I am going full steam ahead on the legal name change.  I wanted to vote first, to avoid any potential for confusion.  And now that the right guy won, I can move confidently forward with legal recognition of my new name.

I found a great website that helps you generate the documents necessary to change your name legally.  It’s so informative, in fact, that it told me I can’t change my name until I have lived in Illinois for 6 months.

So, despite the fact that I was born here, and lived here for over 20 years, I have to wait until February 1st to mail in my forms.  I filled out the document, and tomorrow will contact the State to explain my predicament.  They may not give a fuck, as K suggests.  And the wording is ambiguous: do I have to have been a resident here for the most recent and consecutive 6 months, or just six months total, out of my life?  Guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli