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Signing up for college with the “wrong” name

September 30, 2009

This week, it finally hit me: in two months, I’ll be done with secondary school. I only became fully aware of the consequences today, at a “how to sign up for college” information session. I thought I wouldn’t have to sign up until next year; as it turns out, registration is next MONTH. So I have to figure out, pronto, how to get signed up with my correct name.

I chose a college which, according to many word-of-mouth sources, has a “preferred name” system for trans students. However, I haven’t found any documents confirming that. Even if it is true, the person in charge of enrollment might not be aware of that, so I should be prepared. I tried calling several information numbers, unsuccessfully, and I sent emails to three different info addresses. If all fails, I’ll try going in person.

I’ve chosen to stay at my school for an extra year to do introductory college-level courses  –allowing me to skip a whole year at the university– which is why I thought I wouldn’t have to sign up at college yet. I do, though, and on top of that I still have to persuade the secondary-school principal to accept my preferred name.  The good thing is, if I manage to change my name at school but not at the university, it won’t be a big deal — I’ll have an extra year to work with that.

In any case, I have to come out to my parents soon. I promised myself that I’d talk to them right after graduating, so I can move forward with my life a bit. I’d like to start testosterone next year and actively research chest surgeons: I thought a lot about this, and I want both. Since graduation dates got pushed far into November, my coming out plans fall dangerously close to Christmas. I don’t want to postpone this indefinitely –even though it’s the VERY SCARIEST thing I’ve ever done– so I might talk to them before ending school. I don’t want to ruin my graduation, but it might be best to it during the school year so I have something to distract me for most of every day.

I hadn’t decided on this before typing this post, so I’m feeling pretty shaken now. But I’m glad that I’m finally going confront my greatest fear. In Spanish, it’s called “huir hacia delante”: fleeing forward. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but at least I’m going to be moving somewhere.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. gunk permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:37 pm

    Re: College. I know this probably isn’t ideal, but at my University I’ve found that when I corrected my tutors immediately then they wrote my preferred name on their roll and now only refer to me as that. Of course, I’m not trying to pass as anything exactly, so it wasn’t such a big deal to me for them to call my old name (it still really really bugs me if new people know my old name, but I can get over it). Maybe you could pull your tutors aside just before class and ask them to refer to you by your preferred name, get them to change it on the roll right then and there? Or else get their email addresses and write them an email before you have your first tutorial.
    This won’t solve the problem of your legal name being on your academic records and so forth, but hopefully might help you to feel more comfortable in class at least.

    As for coming out – I don’t have any advice, just lots of solidarity and wishes of good luck!

  2. Malcolm permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:19 pm

    Good luck! I have begun to simply correct people without explanation when my (soon to be) old name appears places. I did email my professors first this year, though. And most likely, if you can get things changed legally before you graduate, your records will be just fine.

    Best wishes with the family. Mine has been hard, and I can’t imagine doing it as a younger person. Though I do wish, in many ways that I had. You’ll have an extra ten years or so to live as you want without hiding, because you’re not waiting. That’s wonderful.

  3. Andrew permalink
    October 1, 2009 2:36 pm

    Hey, I came out to my parents about a week ago. I sent them both letters and the PFLAG publication “Welcoming Our Trans Family and Friends.” I’m pretty sure that it’s available in Spanish, too. At any rate, this page has some resources http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=387

    If you want to read the letter I wrote them go ahead and email me. I can forward it to you.

  4. vidya108 permalink
    October 3, 2009 12:06 am

    When I meet my tutorial students for the first time, I ask anyone who goes by a different-than-official name to let me know during introductions, and I let the students introduce themselves rather than calling out the names on my classlist. I’d also certainly be open to a student emailing me prior to the first meeting, to let me know about a name/gender discrepancy.

    At my Canadian university, a year or so back they tried to designate a specific part of one of the student residences as ‘trans-friendly housing’. I think they only got one interested person, so the idea was moved to the backburner; I believe they do intend to pursue it further at some point. We do have a number of transgender students on campus, though perhaps not living in residence. The student unions and the queer students’ organization are involved in various trans-positive activities, too.

  5. October 3, 2009 9:17 am

    buena suerte mi hermano! i think it’s a very brave thing of you to make that decision to come out to your parents. i’ll be sending positive energy your way!

  6. October 3, 2009 9:25 am

    Tough decisions indeed! Best of luck with all of it.

  7. October 5, 2009 5:16 pm

    Hey kiddo,

    I signed up for college under my “legal” name. I did all the paperwork under the name my parents gave me. It was painful, but I couldn’t afford to do a name change at the time. Luckily I go to a very progressive school, which has been very open to suggestions made by trans students in order to support them in their transition. It took a lot of bureaucracy and whatnot, but some friends and I are making movements to include a “preferred” name, or first initial as a substitute, in the registrar. We’ve also been influential enough to get trans-sensitivity training for all the residential assistants for the upcoming school year. It’s a lot of work, but as young trans persons we have a unique opportunity to show people that trans-inclusivity is the way of the future. As we told our school administrators, there are so many more out trans kids than there were ten years ago. And we have the strange, and wonderful opportunity to blaze a trail for the younger persons (like yourself, and those even younger than us). So, good luck. Keep in contact.

    xo-julian

  8. katy permalink
    October 8, 2009 12:21 am

    you know, as someone who has also been applying to colleges, some on the ones here have the gender option “i prefer not to say” but my experience is limited to american colleges. do any you’re applying to have that?

  9. Jem permalink
    October 13, 2009 4:11 am

    Hi! Since I haven’t seen anyone mention this as of yet.I wanted to mention a vlogger on youtube who I know that you have seen a video of(the Two Hot Trannies Answer Some Questions One) them that I am fairly sure you posted on your blog some time earlier. So anyways, the mtf vlogger freshlyCharles’ has a really good vlog video where he reads the letter he wrote to his parents. Which I felt it was really incredibley(spelling?)moving. So if you haven’t already seen it(which you may have) I highly suggest it.Also one more thing the other trans vlogger that was in the Trannies Answer Questions video on youtube Red Durkin is effing hilarious! So if you havent watched any of her vids I suggest checking her out as well, they might help lift your spirits when the anxiety that coming out can sometimes cause gets you feeling a little blue. And here are the links–> http://www.youtube.com/freshlycharles#p/u/39/ACqb7moK7Jw (freshlycharles’ coming out letter to Mom and Dad)
    http://www.youtube.com/freshlycharles#p/u/39/ACqb7moK7Jw
    (the two hot trannies answering questions video)
    http://www.youtube.com/daedsider
    (Red is Dead A.K.A. Red Durkin-hella funny trans woman)

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