Last year I legally changed my name from Amy Caren to Jamie Ray. If you have changed your name you know it is a complicated thing to do, socially and legally. Once you get the court order, you have to change all of your paperwork. All of it. And I didn’t want to keep seeing mail with my old name on it.
When I changed my name I kept my sex marker at F. This irks me, because if I could, I would set it to N/A, or N/F, or ∏, or Q. Something more descriptive than F. I could handle two markers, one for sex (Female) and one for gender (Butch, Queer, or Trans*). It would be more honest.
I applied for a new Social Security Card, a new Drivers License, a new Passport, new credit cards, and a new work ID. I changed my checking account, savings account, 401K, health insurance, house insurance, and car insurance. I didn’t change my pronouns. Then I got a piece of mail from Vanguard addressed to Ms. Jamie Ray. I became apoplectic. What was that Ms. doing there in front of my name?
When I chose Jamie (or when Jamie chose me) I liked it because I could think of it as a boy’s name, but it worked both ways. I didn’t realize how much I had internalized the gender of Jamie until I got that letter. Then I started looking at my mail very carefully. Most of it comes addressed to Jamie Ray. No honorific. Perfect, that’s me.
It took a while, but when I calmed down, I got on the computer, opened up my Vanguard account, went into my account details, and found out I could not change my honorific. I called Vanguard and spoke with a slightly miffed customer service agent. He was eventually able to pass me along to someone with administrative privileges who could remove the errant Ms. without replacing it with anything else. It was a small victory.
I went back to the computer and logged into every account I have and tried to get rid of the extant honorific. I had not realized that most of those forms let you insert a blank or leave the field empty. A few hours later, I had changed what I could and had a list of the ones I couldn’t edit remotely. I got back on the phone. I spoke to people around the U.S. and in India; eventually they understood what I wanted and complied with my request. To them it may have seemed trivial or it may have seemed pathological. I don’t care. I don’t require formalities. I just want to be Jamie Ray.