Road to a Name Change: Part 5

Hi, everyone. With everything going on in Texas and Ukraine right now, I haven’t been able to update as regularly. Sorry about that! (We’re also approaching midterms week, which means my life is messy currently.) Because I want to be able to come back to this in more depth later on, I’ll be taking you through a little of my announcement week and my hearing today, but the actual changing of a name does not end when you get the piece of paper granting it. A lot of that process is still ongoing for me, and I’ll probably opt from here to post an update at maybe the six-month and one-year marks to explain how a lot of that shakes out moving forward. (If you’re not aware, an Order Changing Name doesn’t actually make anyone swap anything for you; it just gives you the Certified Piece Of Paper that you then submit to everywhere you’ve ever existed and hope they agree to change it. More on that in the coming months.)

I’ve largely blocked out announcement week in my mind—it was mostly a blur as it happened—but there were a few crucial items of business remaining. First, I had some last-minute troubleshooting on my website to figure out, which I sorted over a period of several days with the help of a handful of trusted friends. I’d already changed my Twitter handle and name, since I tend to preload things on there more in advance, but in the two days before December 1, I had to change my name on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and a whole bunch of other places. (I didn’t get to sort Snapchat, which I thankfully only use for about ten people, until this past week!) Going through and finalizing my name change on socials meant I also had to lay low for the rest of November; I stopped posting and stayed out of conversations, even when I desperately wanted to jump into them. Even though it was only a couple days, I was nervous that someone would notice before I’d announced and . . . I don’t know . . . be extra transphobic in my direction, I guess. That didn’t happen, but the pressure was mounting.

The week before the announcement also saw a slate of new photos, taken by Nick in the alley behind our home, that allowed me to make sure my new website really looked like me as I wanted to present myself at the time. That’ll continue to shift, of course, but it was important to me that I wasn’t just putting up a carbon copy of the old site. This was a rare chance to ensure I was putting myself forward as I wanted to be seen.

Around this time, I also changed my name in the systems I could control at school—far from all of them, and I’m still navigating the remainder of that mess—so my students in the spring could at least mostly avoid my deadname. This didn’t work out quite how it should have, but I owe a lot of continuing thanks to the folks at Chandler-Gilbert’s IT office for their help navigating problems they hadn’t seen very much before. They’ve been such a big source of assistance, and I’m grateful for it.

Once November 30 rolled around, it was time for one last proofread of my blog post, a little preemptive drafting for social media, and then . . . I just went to bed. Everything was decided and put in place. Nothing I could reasonably anticipate and control was left to chance. I guess that’s what you do when everything’s done—you try to get some sleep.

December 1, for the record, was a pretty good day. I got to share (and listen to!) the first part of my podcast interview, I put up the post, and I made sure the message was clear: people were invited to celebrate with me, update their contacts, and/or peace on out of my life, but opting out of my name was not on the table. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, I got a handful of really kind messages, and a lot of the tension eased. Along with sending out free updated copies of scores to everyone who’d bought or been gifted one previously, I ran a sale in December on new scores from my shiny new store (that I’m still stoked about, tbh). I wasn’t banking on this being a big source of income, but it was really nice to know that I was making it easier for people to engage with my work under my new name.

All of this happened, by the way, before my hearing. I officially became Eris in the eyes of the State of Arizona on January 14, 2022. I was very nervous that morning: they were using Microsoft Teams (which was only announced on a website, not in any of the copious reminder emails) and mine hadn’t quite finished updating, I had to redo my hard-copy forms into some format I could submit digitally, and, of course, being in Arizona, I was rightly afraid that the judge would deny my petition based on the fact that I’d written “I’m nonbinary” on my documents as part of why I wanted the change. Court that day included a couple dozen other folks changing their names for a litany of different reasons, but I was overjoyed to see that I wasn’t the only trans person in the courtroom—several others were in attendance to officially make their names theirs. Out of respect for them and their privacy, I don’t want to write much about specifics, but it was an incredibly special experience, particularly as we were all able to celebrate despite the constant weight of Arizona’s barrage of anti-trans bills.

Once the hearing was over, I ended up stuck in a holding pattern slightly of my own creation—because I’d had my hearing in January, I was either going to need corrected tax documents from pretty much everywhere or I’d need to file my taxes before updating my Social Security card and driver’s license (and credit cards and online accounts and work documents and…). That part of the journey will be included in my six-month update sometime this summer. For now, though, if you have questions or are seeking encouragement, always feel free to drop me a line! I’m happy to chat.

From here, I’ll be back to more normal blog content, but thanks for sticking with me this far, everyone. I’ve got some really fun projects coming up this year, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Oh, and those name change orders? $31 a copy, which also sent me back to the courthouse on a random afternoon. Most of the places you need to change your name require certified copies, not scans. Being trans never stops being expensive!

Name change expenses in this section:

  • 4 copies of name change order, $124
  • Gas to/from courthouse: approx. $3

Running totals:

  • Part 1: $0
  • Part 2: $336
  • Part 3: $55
  • Part 4: $172
  • Part 5: $127

Total so far: $690, with probably at least $300 more in name change orders alone still to come.

This is Part 5 of a series in which I document the process I underwent to legally (and publicly) change my name. I’ll be taking a break from these updates for now, but stay tuned for sometime in July or August when I chronicle the process of changing my name at various institutions, from credit agencies to my workplace to (hopefully) my diplomas. I’m so glad you’re here!

Thanks for reading! If you learned something from this post and would like to tip me, head on over to my Ko-fi page. For more analysis and commentary like this in your life, check back again soon, and consider subscribing to my mailing list (at the bottom of the page or in the sidebar) for quarterly update emails on my biggest projects. To support the long-term work I do as an artist and advocate, you can find me on Patreon and @honestlyeris on Instagram.