Monthly Archives: August 2014

Can I get that in writing?

Published / by rmaddy / Leave a Comment

Ten days Renae, and I am steadily working on discovering then altering the massive amount of paperwork attached to my existence.  It’s been an eye-opener.

I have learned that most governmental and corporate agencies bury their phone numbers deep into the maze of their service websites, making it very difficult to find them at all.  As an extraordinary coincidence, every customer service phone bank in the galaxy is simultaneously “experiencing higher than average call volumes”, with wait times extending up to 2 hours.  It turns out that very little can be accomplished on the phone anyway.

I have found that governmental agencies are at least as efficient if not more so than corporate entities in negotiating the process of identity change.  The fastest changeover completed so far was with the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Unable to get anyone on the phone (!!) initially, I faxed in a name change request with a copy of my court order and was called the next day by an agent who linked me to a new DEA card online.  I was told that I could start prescribing all the niftiest pills immediately as Renae Gage MD, so quickly that it occurred to me that I had not yet figured out what my signature would look like.

The social security agency is also very quick with the caveat that you must go in person and wait in line (90 minutes in my case).  My card arrived via mail 8 days later.  On the other hand, they lost points in my book when the agent, looking puzzled, asked me, “But…have you had THE SURGERY yet?”  I’m pretty sure she said it in capslock too.  I explained that my medical history is none of her business, and pointed her to the SSA regulations which state what is actually required for name and gender change.

The much maligned DMV handled my driver’s license and voter registration update in about 15 minutes.  Honestly, I have never had an excessively long wait or a bad experience at the DMV in any of 4 states where I have held licensure.  This often-cited poster child for governmental incompetence seems, in my experience, to operate like a well oiled machine.  I was street legal, same day, although I am still awaiting the new card.

Banks and insurance companies are going to take months, and most don’t accept my court order as sufficient evidence that my name has legally changed, despite the fact that the court order is the thing that legally changed it.  Yesterday’s arrival of my Social Security card should allow me to get the ball rolling this week, although some companies state they must have photocopies of my new driver’s license and passport, having no explanation for why they were able to service me in the past without a photocopy of my old one.

One step at a time.

Can I get a witness?

Published / by rmaddy / 1 Comment on Can I get a witness?

No, seriously…I need a witness.  Two, actually.

The legal procedure for legally changing one’s name involves filing a motion in county court, submitting to two background checks and paying $320.  When this is complete, one appears in court for a five minute hearing with two adult witness willing to swear that they know the petitioning party, and, to the best of their understanding, no shenanigans are in progress.  A court order is then issued (at $16 per copy) making it as legal as driving with an open container of booze in Mississippi.

Once this is complete, the real fun begins, including but not limited to:

  • Requesting an amended birth certificate (this is where gender legally changes) from the State of California, which is unsurprisingly rather good at this whole business
  • Obtaining a new passport and social security card
  • Appealing to the Board of Medical Practice for maintenance of licensure under the new name
  • Changing my name and gender on every legal and financial document I have

On the plus side, I’ll probably throw a few thousand spammers and direct mail marketers off my trail for a couple of weeks.  With any luck, I won’t shake off my retirement funds in the process.  It’s a dizzying bit of bureaucracy, even for someone who doesn’t think that the government is particularly oversized other than one five sided building.  Incidentally, for those curious why I did not opt to spell my name “Renée”, it is largely because the Social Security Administration does not recognize accents and diacritical marks.  Who knew?*

So, I need witnesses, specifically on Thursday, August 21 at 9:00 AM in the Scott County Courthouse.  Alas, this historical privilege is available to only a select few.  Please form a queue behind the yellow line, and, as always, mind the gap.  Or, better yet, send me an email at

* Other than Jørg Jürgenson and Bernabé Muñoz