As the summer wound down and I began settling down into my new role as Joyce full-time, I began thinking of legally changing my name and sex (or gender-marker as it’s called in many documents). After consulting with Chuck, my therapist, I met with Billyjean Dixon, a local attorney who has experience and success in this area. She and Chuck have worked together on several previous transsexual name- and sex-changes with great success.

Even though she and her assistant knew the reason for my visit, I filled out an information card restating it all in the waiting room of her office on the first floor of an older office building that’s on a cul-de-sac off a main street here in Bedford Falls. After a few minutes, Ms. Dixon, a late-40-something, early 50-something, well-dressed woman with dirty blond hair and a tailored jacket who looks something like Angie Dickinson, ushered me into her office, where she started with no fanfare, “So, what do you want me to do for you?”

“I want to change my name and my gender marker legally,” I said. “Chuck Garcia gave me your name and said that you and he had had success.”

She said it would be no big deal, that I would testify to some basic facts, like my driver’s license number, whether I had been convicted, and if my reasons were true. I would provide the court with a set of fingerprints, as well. The petition would give all of this information in the “whereas” section, followed by a request for the name change and the gender-marker change, and we would sit in the judge’s chambers at the first of a business day, where I would answer any questions the judge has. Ms. Dixon said that Judge Overhill was sympathetic and would take the petition and Chuck’s recommendation as sufficient and probably wouldn’t ask me any questions, after which he would grant the petition.

He would sign the order for a) the name change, b) the gender marker change, and c) all general relief in this issue, which I take to be an umbrella request to the recipient of this order to honor my request for new ID’s, paperwork, and so on. Ms. Dixon said the whole process would take about 15 minutes and we could arrange it in the next week or so.

Wow — I either said this or thought this, realizing that when you retain professionals, they go ahead and get to work.

Although my visit with Ms. Dixon was brief, professional, and easy, it occurred to me that this short encounter sets in motion a whole new layer of change, legitimizing Joyce as a legal person and not just some whimsical character. This legal change has very little to do with the much more personal (and sometimes frightening in their implications) hormonal, social, and psychological changes I’ve experienced (and continue to experience), but the results of name- and sex-change are equally serious, impacting my legal signature, bank accounts, personnel paperwork, pilot’s license, rents, leases, debts, and health insurance.

I’ll still be able to deposit checks written to George, so it’s not like the old legal entity is vanishing, but like a company engaged in a public relations makeover, I’m getting a new logo, new letterhead, and a new corporate image. I won’t have to follow it all up with an advertising campaign, fortunately, but I will be engaged in several months of writing name-change letters, visiting HR offices, and reprinting professional artifacts like business cards and bank checks to reflect the new legal image.

Maybe I should start these conversations with a flashy burst of advertising enthusiasm: New And Improved!