After her partner of 17 years began transitioning to male, a lesbian explains what keeps them together no matter life’s changes.
Q:If you legally change your name and gender markers everywhere but your birth certificate (passport, driver's license, and social security info), do you have to report your former name for things like job applications?
Zak: If you legally change your name, than that is your legal name for official purposes regardless of what name is on your birth certificate. When a job application asks you for a former name, it matters less whether you’ve changed your name on your birth certificate and more if you’ve, for instance, gotten a degree under a different name. Either way this is a bit of a grey area. I personally never put a former name down (I’ve changed my name on my birth certificate but, like I said, that’s not really the determining factor here, I still have a previous name under which I graduated from high school, etc.). I haven’t had a problem with this at all, but then again all of my credentials and relevant work experience are under my current legal name. I’d say that in most places it’s okay to leave your former name off so long as it’s clear that you aren’t trying to hide a criminal history or anything like that. I can’t give legal advice or anything, but that’s what I personally do.
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Q:I`m not on T but I pass like 95% of the time which can be a problem for me in bathrooms. I am not comfortable with using the mens bathroom yet so I use the womans but I get funny looks and stuff like that. And I live in a place where there are almost no gender neutral bathrooms. As a result I try not to go in public but sometimes I can`t not cause I'm human. So I was wondering if you had any bathroom advice for me?
Zak: When I was pre-T I avoided gendered restrooms like the plague. I also lived in a place with very few gender neutral bathrooms, but I was able to find a few single-stall restrooms in various places and kept those in mind when I was out and about. Many smaller places have single-stall bathrooms. Some of these are gendered, but really it doesn’t matter all that much because you’re the only one using it and so you won’t run into anyone else and have those funny looks.
One thing I’ve also found helpful is to try to use the bathroom during off times so it’s less likely you’ll encounter other people. Bathrooms that are off the beaten path are also good for this (for instance, bathrooms on a deserted floor of a building). When I say off-times, I mean go to the bathroom at a restaurant when it’s not crowded or a meal time, avoid school bathrooms in the short amount of time between classes, etc.
Basically the trick is to find bathrooms around where you tend to go that you feel comfortable with. They don’t have to be gender-netural, but can rather be ones where you’re unlikely to encounter other people. Once you know those, you can strategize your trips to the bathroom in order to hit up these bathrooms instead of ones that you’d be less comfortable with. That’s my advice, anyway. If you’re read as male as much as you say and you’re getting all these funny looks in the women’s room, you might want to try the men’s bathroom sometime. If you’re not ready for that, that’s okay, but it’s something you might want to consider.
Q:Recently, I underwent top surgery, a bilateral mastectomy w/ free nipple grafts. I lost one two days ago, and there's a chance the other graft might go. I get that it's not a giant thing, but it's not something that you can really be prepared for. What would you recommend for coping methods?
Zak: I’m sorry that this happened to you. I can only imagine that this was a pretty stressful experience. I only know one other person who has talked openly about losing a nipple graft, though he had the peri instead of the DI. I’d recommend checking out xxboy’s post(s) about his nipple loss in order to get an idea of how he dealt with it. Perhaps he’d also be open to discussing this with you if you send him an ask (though he hasn’t updated his blog since April). It may be possible for you to eventually get a revision or for you to get nipples tattooed, so while this is an unexpected difficulty hopefully you will be able to fix it if you want to. It’s always tough to have complications after surgery, and while this one hopefully isn’t going to cause health-related harm it aesthetically might be disappointing or emotionally upsetting to you. Definitely allow yourself to acknowledge these feelings and give yourself permission to express them.
Q:(1/2) I'm 23 years and as of last summer have been out to every single person I interact with regularly - except my family. (This year I'm living stealth at my field job where I live with my coworkers - only the people from last year and a couple others know.) I'm living a double life but I'm terrified of coming out to my family. I used to say I'd wait until I was financially independent, and I finally am. I also used to say I was going to wait for my homophobic grandmother to pass away, but
(Cont…) that’s depressing as fuck and I’m sick of waiting - I’m just also so scared to move forward. My parents are immigrants so there’s a little bit of a cultural barrier, but I know that even if they don’t accept or understand they’ll still love me. I’m just… So uncertain about how to handle my extended family (10 aunts & uncles, 11 cousins). I’m not close to any of them except my extremely homophobic but beloved aunt, but I see them regularly. There’s a language barrier, so I can’t explain in person. What can I do? Should I let my parents handle it? I guess I’m so impatient because I’ve known I was trans since I was 15, and I’ve been waiting 8 years. People who came out as trans years after I figured it out already have top surgery, etc, etc. I’m willing to blow all my money on it - and I’ll have enough by the time I plan on having it (next summer, provided I don’t have to work) - and I guess I’m finally willing to take the risk. I’m just so scared.
Zak: It sounds like there are a few things going on here, but that basically at one point you set several things that you wanted to do before coming out and you’ve reached almost all of them. You’re in a good place financially, you’re out to everyone else in your life, and you’re pretty sure your parents are going to be more or less okay (or at least still love you and want to be in your life). The problem, it sounds like, is coming out to your extended family. Not only is this a logistical problem, but it sounds like it also might be difficult because you’re unsure how certain people might respond.
My recommendation would be to come out to your parents and immediate family first and see how things go with them. Once you come out to them, you can ask them their opinion on how to come out to the rest of the family and see if they would be comfortable and able to handle that for you. I personally came out to one set of my grandparents, who I’m very close to, but I let my parents inform everyone else in a way that they saw fit. Part of this was that they knew those family members better than me and were closer to them than I was and so this was something they were comfortable with and wanted to do. I’d only recommend this, though, if your parents are somewhat accepting and positive about things. You don’t want your parents coming out to your extended family for you saying that it is a terrible thing.
So, I think you should formulate your game plan for telling your extended family after you see how your immediate family responds. If you do end up coming out to your extended family, you may want to write letters to everyone. You mention there’s a language barrier, so perhaps you could have the letters translated. Depending on the language your family speaks, there also might be resources in that language that you can share with them (for instance, there’s a Spanish version of Our Trans Children, though the link isn’t working for me right now so those who are interested in it might want to contact PFLAG if they are unable to find it online). Good luck and I hope things go well for you. Hopefully if your parents have a good response you can lean on them for familial support and they will stand up for you if other members of your family are more negative about it.
Q:hey, do any of you guys know of insurances that cover trans health care for international students? im going to study in the us from philippines and i don't know what insurance to pick. thanks
Zak: Insurance questions are super tough to answer because there’s a lot of variation within providers and so it really depends on a lot of things. For that reason, we tend to avoid insurance related questions. That said, I would guess there are fewer options for this type of insurance and so it might be more easily answerable. I don’t know the answer, but perhaps someone else does. Followers?
Q:i don't have a packer but when i try putting a sock in my underwear it usually ends up riding up and looking a bit odd, especially in tighter pants. any suggestions on how to fix this ?
Zak: Make sure you’re securing the sock in your underwear to keep it from moving too much around. For instance, if you have baggier underwear you may want to pin the sock to your underwear. If your underwear is tight and you’re still having this problem, keep in mind that a lot of guys need to adjust their junk (probably rude, although it’s commonly done, to do this in public) so you may need to do that throughout the day.