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Identity Management in Transsexualism (1994)

Identity Management in Transsexualism (1994)

©1994, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1994) Identity management in transsexualism: A practical guide to managing identity on paper. King of Prussia, PA: Creative Design Services.





I wrote this book to help transsexuals with the formidable challenge of changing their legal identities from one gender to the other.

The late JoAnn Roberts acquired it for her company Creative Design Services and kept it in her catalog for some twenty years. I suppose with her death (which occurred a few days before I wrote this post) it will finally go out of print. Prices on Amazon are already high; perhaps I’ll do a second edition. It will take some effort if I do, for much has changed in the past twenty years!

Bill Henkin wrote a wonderful review for The Spectator. I liked it so much I published it in my newsletter AEGIS News.


Identity Management in Transsexualism

Chapter 1: Shades of Gray

Chapter 1

Shades of Gray

Let me begin by stating emphatically that this is not a black-and-white world. Unfortunately, we in Western society impose upon the natural order of things our intellectual template, which comes to us honorably, by way of Aristotle and Descartes. We Americans tend to view things in a dualistic manner: black and white, night and day, man and woman. There is a certain utility to this view, but sometimes our dualistic patterns of thinking overshadow the subtleties with which this world abounds. The world itself is not black and white; thinking about it as black and white is simply a tool which lets us make some sense out of the (to use William James’ term) “buzzing, blooming confusion” which surrounds us.

Dualistic thinking is perfectly illustrated by our conceptions of sex and gender. Historically, we have had two categories for sex: male and female, and two for gender: masculine and feminine. But there are people who are born with the physical characteristics of both sexes. No matter how ambiguous their genitalia or chromosomes are, however, and no matter if the forced choice often causes us to guess wrong, we must have either an “M” or an “F” for the birth certificate. There are no other designations currently available in Western culture.

But anthropologists tell us that many other cultures have more than two sexes, and more than two genders. For instance, the Navajo people carry a gene which results in a relatively high percentage of babies with ambiguous genitalia. These babies are called nadle, and are considered to be members of a third sex. They grow up with self-identities not as males, and not as females, but as nadle, which means that the Navajo have a third gender as well as a third sex. But Navajo without ambiguous genitalia can be nadle, as well. This gives us a fourth and fifth sex, and a fourth and fifth gender: female nadle pretenders, and male nadle pretenders. All of these “additional” sexes and genders are considered by the Navajo to be entirely as valid as we consider our two traditional genders, female and male. Many other cultures have such alternate gender roles.

Historically, there have always been people who felt inappropriate in their assigned gender role. Attempts are made to bring those who did not “fit” into either of the two accepted roles into harmony with society. Often, they are teased or persecuted, or, like Joan of Arc, killed because they are unable or unwilling to conform to gender norms and stereotypes. And yet, despite social pressures, many men do not quite look or act like men, and many women do not quite look or act like women. Unfortunately, there are no alternative social roles available for them. Only recently have there been medical treatments available to alter them so they can “fit” as a member of the other sex. In fact, when such treatments did arise, a primary use was to alter intersexed persons to be physically more like the other members of the sex to which they were assigned.

In our century, thanks in part to the work of John Money and his associates at the Johns Hopkins University in the 1950s, and thanks in part to the media sensation caused by the revelation of Christine Jorgensen’s sex reassignment in Copenhagen in the early 1950s, people who do not fit into one of the two gender roles have been presented with a rather drastic third option—to have their bodies modified so that they resemble, as closely as possible, those of the other sex, and to change their gender role to that usually associated with the other sex. For some people, this process, which is called sex reassignment, is life-enabling, for by subjecting themselves to the expense, bother, upheaval, and pain involved in going through a long series of physical and social changes, they can achieve a social role which corresponds with their inner sense of themselves. But for many others, this third alternative is as drastic as the traditional two. What about the people who don’t fit comfortably into male, female or transsexual roles? Must they make a choice that may not be right for them?

Fortunately, more and more people in Western society have begun to realize that there is a spectrum of gender options, and that the categories female and male are but two categories among many. A poor fit in the box labeled female does not mean that one has to jump into the box called male via the route called transsexualism. In fact, transsexualism can be validly considered to be a box of its own, for most people think of transsexual people as somehow different from “normal” females and males, no matter how convincing they look and no matter how long ago their operation. But there are many, many other options as well.

The result of all this progressive thinking is that if an individual feels some discomfort in his or her assigned gender role, there are ways to stretch and explore that role in new and exciting ways; it need not be abandoned because it is not comfortable. Just as a tight shoe can be stretched, so can definitions of manhood and womanhood. In fact, such definitions change markedly with time and place. Feminine dress and behavior in the 1990s is quite different than what it was in the 1950s. Before World War II, a female in slacks was considered as scandalous as is a man in skirts today. Today, some women rarely, if ever, wear dresses, and yet they are considered perfectly feminine. Norms change, and it is people pushing against the rigid boundaries of gender which cause our definitions of manhood and womanhood to change. Men need not all be like John Wayne, and women need not all be like Marilyn Monroe. Men can be like Alan Alda or even like Boy George, and women can be like Greta Garbo or even like k.d. lang, and still be considered men and women.

There are organized groups which explore and constantly push back gender boundaries, such as the Pro-Feminist Men’s Movement and Radical Faerie movement for men and, for women, the National Organization of Women. And there is a growing transgender movement in which men and women explore the other gender roles in various ways, stopping somewhere short of sex reassignment surgery.

Gender dysphoria is a condition in which the individual experiences feelings of inappropriateness in his or her assigned sex. Such people are obviously not happy with traditional notions of masculinity, if male, or with traditional notions of femininity, if female. This does not automatically mean that sex reassignment is indicated. Fleeing a stereotyped notion of manhood only to escape into a stereotyped notion of womanhood may not address the complexity of the actual person involved. All of us have masculine and feminine traits, and most of us can express them without resorting to sex reassignment or conforming to gender stereotypes. For some, the price of sex reassignment is very high, and the currency—loss of status, reduced income (and often perpetual unemployability), shattered relationships, alienation, and societal rejection—is far too much to pay. That notwithstanding, for a few, manhood may be a better fit than is womanhood, or womanhood might just work better than manhood, and the disruption caused by sex reassignment is a justifiable price to pay. It is the route I myself took. I offer my support, by way of this book and its companion volume, to those of you who, after searching your hearts, have made the decision to follow this difficult course.

In the chapters which follow, I will discuss the most extreme case, that of sex reassignment, in which not only physical characteristics are changed, but also the social context of the individual’s life. Those who are not headed for sex reassignment might nevertheless be able to glean some useful information from the text.

Chapter 3: Names

Chapter 3


Our names are labels, convenient tags which others use to identify us and refer to us. Businesses and governments place our names on computers and keep us in their records. When we want to make transactions, we are asked to give our name. When others meet us, the first thing they want to know is our name. Our name is everywhere: written on the fly pages of old schoolbooks, on file in musty journals, at the courthouse, on our driver’s license and other identifying documents, on the computer at the credit bureau, on our diplomas, on cards we receive at Christmas, on our birthday cake, on the top left corner of our checks, on our mailboxes. Our names are webs woven around us, defining who we are in society. They are constant, rarely changing except in the case of marriage, when wives sometimes take the surnames of their husbands.

In this culture, our names are “given” us by our parents. Even before our births, our mother and father give great consideration to what we will be named. They study baby books, listen to suggestions from friends and relatives, and eventually make a decision. They name us after relatives, movie or television stars, friends, historical figures, or themselves, or they pick a name they just happen to like. Usually, they pick a first name and a middle name, and give us their last name.

As soon as the name goes on the birth certificate, it is used as the primary method of identifying us. From the day of our birth to the day of our death, we will hear it many times a day. Throughout our lives, when our name is spoken, we will know exactly to whom it refers.

It’s no wonder our names are an important part of our identities. They are a measure of who we are, constant in an everchanging world. When we tell others our name, we are as likely to say “I am…” as we are to say “My name is…” Our names are that essential to our identity. It is fortunate, then, that most people like their names, or at least are content with them. But for those with gender dysphoria, a name which is strongly associated with the gender role assigned at birth can be distasteful to its possessor, who may have borne it unwillingly for decades. In their new gender, it may be jarringly discordant, a flag, strike one in the “three strikes and you’re out” theory of transsexualism, in which an accumulation of discordant gender cues can lead others to realize that you are transsexual.

Most first and middle names identify us as either male or female. Certainly, popular notions of boys’ and girls’ names change with the times. Lindsay, Sean, Sam, and Chris were once considered masculine names, but are now perfectly acceptable names for girls and women. But other names remain highly sex-typed. There are few females named Fred or Bruce, or boys named Sue (How do you do!). Possession of such a name can be highly embarrassing for the transgendered person, especially when he or she is in transition. It is usually necessary at some point to take a new name.

There’s another reason why transgendered persons change their names, however. Many transsexual persons consider that they are starting a “new life” and use a name change as the embarkation point. They sometimes change not only the first and middle names, but the last name, which in our society is gender-neutral. A new name erases old baggage.

Should You Change Your Name?

As your name is something you will have with you for a long time, it’s important to give a great deal of consideration to what it will be, or even if you will change it at all.

What’s that, you ask? If I change it?

Yes, if. Many names work equally well for both genders, and some, although predominantly associated with one gender, will not raise much interest if used by the other. Names like Ashley, Chris, Dana, Kim, and Leslie give us no clue about the gender of the possessor. On the other hand, we might assume that someone named Beverly or Carol would be a woman, but those of us from the deep South would not be surprised if a man in a business suit told us his name was Beverly or Carol. Traditionally masculine names like Michael and Sam have become increasingly popular as girls’ names. While such names are still not the norm, they would not be likely to cause much stir if used by a female. Almost any masculine name is capable of being used as a woman’s name. The woman who cleans my teeth is named Allen; the name sometimes causes comment, but she wears it proudly.

Some names work well for both men and women. My middle name was Dallas, a name which I never considered to be gender-neutral until I was 40, when someone pointed out to me that they had known three females named Dallas, but no males. In fact, it’s such an uncommon name that it really didn’t have much gender history attached to it. Rumor has it that Dallas, Texas was named after a rancher’s wife. There was a prostitute named Dallas in the John Ford movie Stagecoach, and a male pop singer named Dallas Frazier had some hits in the ’50s (Workin’ in the coal mine, goin’ down, down down.). The captain of the Nostromo, the spaceship in Ridley Scott’s Alien was a man named Dallas. What are we batting here? .500?

If either your first or middle name is one of these “both-ways” names, or a “neither-way” name like mine, you have an option that others won’t have. You can either change your name or you can keep it. You may even be able to keep both your first and middle names. When I was in Belgium for my surgery, I met a transsexual woman from Alberta. Her birth name was Lonnie Dale. She had changed her names at the insistence of a Toronto gender program with sensibilities straight out of the Jurassic period. If not for the “change the names or you’re out of the program” coercion of her therapist, she told me, she would still be Lonnie Dale. Her companion, who was also transsexual, told me the same therapist had forced her to give up her job, which he considered too masculine, for a career in nursing!

There is one disadvantage to keeping your name, and it is a considerable one. Names, as you recall, are used by society to label us. Your name will associate you with a past that you might wish to forget. And the association can come at inopportune times, in effect “outing” you. In my case, I have had such a boomerang experience only once in three-and-a-half years. Shortly after my transition and concurrent move to Atlanta, I joined a computer club and was promptly elected secretary/treasurer, even though I had only shown up to say, “Hi. I’m in town. I’d like to make contact so I can get in touch with you guys if I have problems with my computer.”

The president of the club was Mark. About a year after I joined the club, on a trip home to Alabama, Mark mentioned my name to a friend from the Huntsville club. “Oh, yes,” the friend said, “I know Dallas.” But there was a slight problem, called to attention by their differing use of pronouns. The Dallas Mark knew was a woman, and the Dallas his friend knew was a man. A comparison of physical characteristics and personality traits led to the inevitable conclusion that they were talking about the same person, and there was only one explanation about what had happened.

I was fortunate: Mark was a perfect gentleman. He let me know in a very gentle way that he knew, but it didn’t matter. We didn’t talk about it for over a year, and when we did, he told me he hadn’t even told his wife.

I’m grateful to Mark. For most, it would have been a juicy bit of gossip which they would have been eager to share. And while my position in the club would probably not have been jeopardized, the way the other club members perceived me would have changed, as Mark’s did. When we finally spoke about the matter, he mentioned that sometimes when his teen-aged daughter looked at me, he wondered if she was wondering about me. She probably wasn’t, but it was clear Mark’s knowledge had altered his perception of me. I had moved from “woman” to “transsexual.”

No harm was done, but I don’t kid myself. I know that at any time in the future I am subject to discovery because I have kept my name. And the risk is more because of my high visibility in the transgender community. I might not be so lucky next time.

Despite the disadvantage of linking oneself with one’s past, there are many advantages to keeping the old name. Especially if it is the one you were always called by, many of your identifying documents will be in that name and will not need to be changed. Nor will you have to go through your personal possessions and paper and purge the old name. I am a lover and collector of books. I shudder to think of the thousands of books with my name written or stamped inside the cover, and sometimes on assorted pages in the middle of the book. I can think of no suitable way in which they could have been altered without damaging them. Thank goodness, I didn’t have to bother. Nor did I have to alter many of my identifying documents, for although Dallas was my middle name, it was the name by which I had always been called, and it was on every document except those in which I had been intimidated into giving my full name. Besides, I am as proud of who I was as I am proud of who I am now, and it was nice not to have to purge my name from my possessions. Keeping my name has been instrumental in allowing me to reclaim my past.

But there are advantages to keeping my name which went far beyond just saving trouble. The very continuity which is capable of exposing me works in my favor in many ways. Most of the documentation I needed to establish myself as a female was already in place. I needed only to change those few things—my birth certificate, one of my college transcripts, my social security card, and my work ID—all of which listed my other name, which unfortunately was not androgynous. And dropping the name did not blatantly point out that I was transsexual. All right, I’ll tell you my other name. It was William. I hated it. I could change William Dallas Denny to Dallas Denny without explanation and certainly without it indicating that I was in pursuit of sex reassignment. If on the other hand I had changed my name from John to Jane, any bureaucrat with a three-digit IQ would know exactly what was up and might make a “sex change” notion somewhere. An acquaintance of mine found out, when she bought a mobile home, that although the credit card reporting agency had changed her name as she had requested, her credit report contained an A.K.A. (also known as) giving her old male name. It was enough to get her “clocked,” as we say in the South, and in a situation where she would have much rather her transsexualism have been unknown.

Keeping the name Dallas made it easier to get my gender designation changed on various documents, as well. When I was addressed by creditors as Mr. Denny, I simply said, “Please correct your records to reflect that I am a female and wish to be addressed as Ms.” The person I was talking to would decide that they had made an incorrect assumption based on my name and change the designation without further question. If my voice had not been passable, this might have been less likely to work.

Similarly, if I get mail or a telephone call to Mr. Denny, it can be explained in the same way. (“Guess they assumed I was a man. Ha, ha. Wouldn’t that be a scream?”) Seriously—even if I happen to be with a friend who doesn’t “know,” an attribution of maleness need not concern me, for it is only an example of someone making the wrong guess about my gender-neutral name. If my name were Laura or Roxanne and someone called me “mister,” it would be considerably more difficult to explain. Keeping my name has provided a continuity that is well worth the risk of exposure.

When I changed my name, I simply told the judge that I had never liked my first name, that I had never used it, that it was a nuisance, and that I wanted to be rid of it. That was hardly a lie. I didn’t tell him the real reason was because I was headed for sex reassignment. The little white lie of omission saved me embarrassment and probably saved the judge about 20 blood pressure points. If I had been going from an obviously masculine name to an obviously feminine one, I would have had no choice but to tell him what was up. Chances are it wouldn’t have been that bad, but I’ve known instances in which judges—especially judges in rural areas like the one I was in—have refused to allow name changes for transsexual persons because they objected to what they were doing. I saved myself that risk.

If you have an androgynous name, you can, like me, simply drop the other name. Later, if you wish, you can add another name. That’s what I thought I would do, but I doubt that I will ever bother.

Your Last Name

You have the option of retaining your surname, or of changing it. Keeping the same last name, like keeping the same first name, provides continuity, which generally works for the best, but which can work against you. You may wish to get rid of a name you never liked, or you may change it with great reluctance. Or you may decide to keep your last name; most transsexual people do.

I correspond with Brenda, a transsexual woman from Michigan. She had collapsed her fine Polish name of eleven letters into a shortened Americanized name with five letters. One day I asked her in a letter why she was changing the name. She thought about it, and in her next letter, her surname was restored. She wrote that she was proud of it, by golly, and was going to keep it. She said she hadn’t considered not changing it, and thanked me for pointing out to her that she could keep it.

I was simply passing on a favor. I might never have realized the name Dallas would have worked if someone hadn’t cued me in. As well as it has worked (I get lots of compliments on it), I had never for one moment considered that it could be a woman’s name. It just didn’t occur to me. It wasn’t until someone pointed out that they thought it worked fine as a name for a woman that I took it for a test drive. And do you know the first reaction I got? As I handed my charge card to a sales clerk at a department store, she said, “Dallas. That’s a lovely name for a woman.”

That was it. I kept the name, and I have never regretted it.

Appendix B is a list of names which can work for both males and females.

Chapter 8: Changing the Sex Designation on Your Documents: I

Chapter 8

Changing the Sex Designation on Your Documents: I


Many documents identify you as either male or female. The two most notorious are your driver’s license and birth certificates, but college transcripts, employment files, social security records, credit reports, and many other documents tell the world that you are either male or female (the infamous two choices).

Some states, including Texas and California, will change your records to show your new gender once you begin cross-living. Most states, however, still require proof of surgery. Some states will issue new birth certificates, and some will amend the existing certificate. Other states will not amend the certificate. Two states, Tennessee and Ohio, have passed laws specifically denying transsexual persons the right to change or amend their birth certificates, even after genital surgery.

The definitive procedure for having one’s sex altered on official documents depends upon whether one was born male or female. For born males, there must in most cases be a surgical affidavit attesting that you had vaginoplasty, a procedure in which the testicles and many of the interior structures of the penis are removed and an artificial vaginal cavity is constructed from penile and scrotal skin. For a born female, evidence of top surgery may suffice, but proof of hysterectomy is more usually required.

With this surgical proof (or with other evidence in locations, like Texas, which do not require proof of surgery), you can have your birth certificate modified or re-issued, unless you live in one of the following states: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, New York, Ohio, or Tennessee. Considering recent changes which have taken place, I would wager that only Ohio and Tennessee, the states which deny the changes under law, could not be finessed or persuaded to change your birth certificate.

It’s a sad commentary on our society that two states would deny transsexual persons such a basic marker of personal identity as a correct birth certificate. I would just like to say shame on you to Ohio, and Tennessee.

Fortunately, the birth certificate is used primarily for getting other documents which can themselves be changed to reflect your correct name and sex. Once you have a driver’s license, passport, social security card, and other identifying documents, you will rarely if ever need to show your birth certificate. Usually two or three of the other methods of identification will suffice for any occasion. It is important to have as many documents as possible in the new gender, but the loss of a birth certificate, while important, is not crucial.

With an affidavit from your surgeon, you should be able to have all other supporting documents changed. You can go through the same list you used for your name change (Appendix E).

There are a number of documents which are usually used to establish identity. The most important is the driver’s license. It’s crucial that you have a license which accurately reflects your name, appearance, and gender. You’ll need it for cashing checks, to show to the police if you are stopped (even if you weren’t driving, they’ll want to see it), when applying for a job, and for many other purposes.

If you’re lucky, you will live in one of the few states which have no sex designation on the driver’s license. Most, however, do show you as either male or female. If you don’t drive, you might see about getting a state-issued identification card. Some states issue them to those who don’t drive. They look like driver’s licenses and serve many of the same functions. Incidentally, in some states (like Texas), it is possible to get such an identification card in addition to a driver’s license; this can be useful while you’re in transition, for your driver’s license can show you in one mode, and the identification card in the other. Both will reflect your legal name, but a state-sanctioned photo of you in the clothing of the other genetic sex is bound to impress policemen and other officials.

Another crucial piece of identification is the social security card. The card doesn’t contain information about your sex, but that information is on file at the Social Security Administration, and even though you will be issued a card in the new name upon request, the Social Security Administration records will need to be changed.

The driver’s license and social security card, like the birth certificate, and to a lesser extent the passport, are “seed” documents which allow you to obtain other documentation. Thanks to a bill passed during Ronald Reagan’s administration, you’ll need to show at least two of the four documents when applying for employment. You’ll also need to show them when opening bank accounts, applying for credit, getting a library card, and even for buying a drink, if you don’t look twenty-one. With them, you can build an impressive wallet full of plastic, all with your new name and correct sex designation.

The more documents you have with correct sex and name, the easier it will be to get others. And in general, if your name has already been changed, the sex designation will be easier to get changed. You may find that in some cases (for instance, on college transcripts) you can ask that the sex field simply be left blank. When I showed the order for my name change, I asked the clerk to leave the sex field blank. In this age of lessened sexism, it hardly seems strange to have a blank field for race or sex. I probably couldn’t have persuaded her that I was a female (as I was having her drop the name William from the record), but I was able to get her to delete the sex designation. At some point, I can add it again, if I so choose—but I’m sure I won’t bother.

Still, getting those first few documents can be especially tricky. You may run into obstinate clerks or clerks who aren’t sure about what to do. Be charming and smile, and then decide how you’re going to solve your problem—by going over them, or by going around them. The former is costly in terms of time and energy, and is not guaranteed to work. The second method is not guaranteed to work either, but surprisingly often, it is effective, and without blood, sweat, toil, or tears, and without the loss of energy better expended in other ways.

If your request is refused, ask yourself whether there is another place to obtain the same service. Most states have multiple drivers licenses examining stations, and you can go to the one of your choosing. If you are turned down at one location, you can try another, and this time you may get the change you want. It’s much easier than trying to force compliance.

Not long ago, I spoke with a transsexual woman who obtained a court order requiring a change of sex on her driver’s license, even though she was preoperative. When she took the order to the examining station, the clerk called a supervisor, and he refused to honor the court order.

The woman in question, being an attorney, is highly skilled in negotiation and conflict resolution. She took the matter up with the state attorney general’s office. She discovered that there is no law and no regulation about what to do in her case. She is still negotiating with the Assistant Attorney General and may well succeed in getting the sex designation of her license change, in the process making things better for other transsexual persons in her state. But she told me that on the particular day when she went to the license examining station, she wasn’t up for a fight; she simply wanted the sex designation on her driver’s license changed so that she could live her life in a more normal manner.

Just as I never considered that my name might work in my new role, my friend never thought about going to another examining station—even though other transsexual persons she know—and without a court order yet—had succeeded in getting their licensed changed. Because she chose to work within the system rather than flim-flamming it, she still has an “M” on her license. If she had to do it over again, she would probably just go to another location rather than contacting the state attorney general.

This brings up a point. At all levels, sex reassignment is a difficult process. Many transsexual people, already highly frustrated because of bodies which don’t match their sense of person, are absolutely ground down by the expense and pain of the process. There are many number of obstacles to overcome, and each one requires a great deal of resolution and stamina. Transsexual people are as honest and forthright as any other group of people, but their peculiar circumstances make complete truthfulness a frustrating and often dangerous trait. Being completely honest and open in one’s dealings can be much like butting one’s head into a brick wall. It will eventually wear you down. Much time and energy can be saved by slight-of-hand and misdirection, the gentle civil disobedience I wrote about earlier. If you go up against the system every time, the system will change very little and you’ll soon be worn to a frazzle. I learned early in life to pick my battles carefully. For your own good, you should too. When you make a stand, do so, but do so on your terms and because you want to, and not because you have to.

My, my, what kind of person have I become? Here I am counseling people to if not break the law, at least bend it a little. I’ll tell you what kind of human being I am. I’m basically honest, but pragmatic. I am someone who believes that the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of the law. I dissembled a bit in my own transition, and still do insofar as making at times a bit of a smokescreen about my past. But I consider myself an honest person. If I found a wallet on the street, I would turn it in, even if it had money in it. I don’t cheat on my taxes. But I don’t butt my head on the unremitting and unrelenting wall of bureaucracy, except in the rare instances in which it can’t be helped. Unless you want a sore head, you won’t either.

In the matter of driver’s licenses, it may especially pay to be tricky. In Atlanta, Fulton County examiners see many transsexual people and are therefore sensitized to their appearance; furthermore, they know the rules, and in Georgia the rules are: no surgery, no change of sex designation. The state of Georgia has many driver’s license examining stations, however, and citizens can use whichever one they wish. I suggest to those in transition that they go to one of the surrounding counties, where the examiners are less sophisticated about transsexualism. There’s no law against it. It breaks no rules. It’s a perfectly legitimate thing to do, and it increases the changes of getting the sex designation on your driver’s changed before surgery.

This worked for me. When I moved to Georgia, I went to an examination station in a rural location. I was armed with a Tennessee driver’s license identifying me as Dallas Denny. My photo was very androgynous. But the license said I was a male. I filled in the Georgia application and wrote f in the box which asked me about my sex. The examiner took my old license and began entering information into the computer. I held my breath, hoping she would not note the “M” on my license, and she must not have, for she said nothing, and when my license came back, it had an f on it.

Of course, I might have been okay even if she had noticed. She might have thought it simply an error. If you pass successfully, and if nothing otherwise points out your transsexualism, the wrong sex designation on a document may be looked at as a mistake. It rocks the world of the clerk less to believe a mistake has been made in the paperwork than it does to believe that you started out as a member of the other sex. Perhaps it just seems more parsimonious to them. Several people have told me that they have had clerks in stores say, “Honey, you need to take a look at your license. I can’t believe you haven’t noticed it. You need to get this taken care of.” The “mistake”, of course, is the sex designation.

Even if you don’t pass easily, there can be additional perks in going to a rural station. I’ve had several people tell me that the clerk changed the sex designation at the same time as complying with the court order to change the name. They did so on some occasions because they didn’t know any better, and on some occasions they did so just to help out.

With the new driver’s license firmly in hand, it will be possible to build a collection of other documents which identify you.

Chapter 10: References

Chapter 10


You’ll lneed to list personal and work references on your resume, and chances are one or more will be contacted by your prospective employer. You don’t want your transsexualism revealed by a check of your references.

The persons you would ordinarily use as personal references are likely to do more harm than good. “Yes, I’ve known her—I mean him, for twenty years, and, uh, is of high moral character.” No matter how highly you are spoken of or how impressive the person giving the reference, you will be given away if the wrong name or pronouns are used. The gender inertia of those who have known you can do you more harm than good, even if they love you and wish you the best.

Fortunately, you will meet people who know you only in your new role. You can use new friends and other transgendered persons as personal references. Unlike Uncle Charlie, they have no gender inertia to overcome.

Ideally, you should give three personal references, one of whom has known you about a year, one for about three years, and one for more than five years. If you’ve been in the new role only a few months, however, your new friends won’t have known you for long enough to serve as a long-time reference. It’s possible to thoroughly brief an old friend so he or she will say the right thing, but there’s always the chance that they will slip. Fortunately, there’s a simpler solution. Simply decide how long your new friend has “known” you and rehearse with him or her how the two of you met and how long you have known each other. Most people, considering the circumstances, will be happy to tell a little lie for you. Sure, it’s less than honest, but it harms nothing. After all, you’re cut off to some extent from your past, and simply trying to start a new life. You need a few breaks. Whenever you give that person as a reference, you should call and warn him or to expect a call.

Job references can be a little difficult. Your old employer may or may not be willing to give recommendations for you in the new role—and even if the official decision is yes, they will use the right name and pronouns, it will take only one unfriendly clerk in the personnel office or one staff member unaware of what should be said for you to go down in flames.

You can negotiate with your employer. When I told my employer of ten years about my plans, I was offered the chance to remain. Someone, he said, needed to bring the place into the nineties. I chose not to be that person, but I made it clear how important it was that I not be given away by a slip of the tongue when my references were checked as I was applying for jobs in my new gender. The Assistant Superintendent agreed to write a letter of recommendation for my file. He didn’t feel comfortable referring to me with feminine pronouns, but he managed to write a very nice letter using no masculine pronouns. And he was a good enough writer that it didn’t sound awkward! He had the letter placed in my file.

I asked the personnel office to respond to enquiries about me only by mail, using that letter. To be on the safe side, I looked through my employee file. I was surprised to find only one “incriminating” document, a commendation which used my full legal name. When no one was looking, I removed it from my file and crammed it into my pocket. Another rule broken, but the end justified the means. And it was a commendation I removed, after all, and not a reprimand.

I had always been friendly with the folks in Personnel, and they readily agreed to honor my request to use only female pronouns. I told them that if they were uncomfortable with that, that they could simply say that they would forward referral materials, and send a copy of the letter in my file, revealing nothing over the phone. They must have honored my request, for I doubt if I would have my present job if my employer had learned of my transsexualism before hiring me.

If your past is imperfectly concealed, you may lose a few jobs because of accumulating cues as your resume is checked, but eventually, if you’ve done all of your homework, one of the firms with which you are interviewing should hire you.

If you are unable to arrange it so that you will get a reference from your last job in the appropriate gender, it may be necessary to do a bit of creative restructuring of your past. Rather than listing that job, you can make one up and arrange for a friend to receive mail or phone calls and verify that you indeed worked where you said you did. This is obviously risky, but it may be necessary in order to get that first job in the new gender. The worst that is likely to happen is that you won’t get the job—and that’s what is almost certainly what would have happened if your transsexualism had been communicated by a call to your last employer. Be sure to work out all the details with your friend. It would be best to use a friend who really has a company, but that may not be possible.

Once you have your first job in the new gender, you’re home free, for employers rarely check more than one reference. Your new employer will of course give you a recommendation using the right name and pronoun, and future jobs will be easier to obtain. It’s just that first one that’s such a bitch.

Appendix B: Some Names Which Can be Used by Both Men and Women

Appendix B

Some Names Which Can be Used by Both Men and Women

These are just a few of the hundreds of names which work well for both genders. Many were once considered to be boys’ names, but have become increasingly popular as girls’ names in recent years. Others are not common enough to have strong associations with either gender.

In many cases, there are alternative spellings. Usually, one of the spellings is a feminized version of a boy’s name, but in most cases, the original spelling is often used for girls as well as boys.

  • Adrian/Adrienne
  • Ashley
  • Aubrey
  • Audrey
  • Avery
  • Billy/Billie
  • Blaine
  • Bobby/Bobbi
  • Brent
  • Bret/Brett
  • Carmen
  • Carol/Carroll
  • Cary/Carey
  • Casey/Kasey
  • Chic
  • Chris/Kris
  • Cory/Corey
  • Dale
  • Dallas
  • Dana
  • Darryl
  • Dee
  • Erin
  • Francis/Frances
  • Jacky/Jackie
  • Jaimie
  • Jan
  • Jay/Jaye
  • Gean/Jene
  • Jerry/Jeri
  • Jesse/Jessie
  • Jodie/Jodi
  • Joe/Jo
  • Kelly/Kellie
  • Kerry/Keri
  • Kim/Kym
  • Lane/Layne
  • Lauren
  • Lee/Leigh
  • Leslie
  • Lyn/Lynn
  • Lonnie/Loni
  • Marion/Marian
  • Marty/Marti
  • Max
  • Merle
  • Micky/Mickey/Micki
  • Pat
  • Peyton
  • Randy/Randi
  • Ray/Raye/Rae
  • Rene/Renee
  • Ricky/Ricki
  • Robin/Robyn
  • Ronny/Ronnie/Ronni
  • Sandy/Sandi
  • Shane/Shayne
  • Shawn/Sean
  • Shannon
  • Shelly/Shelley
  • Sidney/Sydney
  • Teddy/Teddi
  • Terry/Terri
  • Tommy/Tommie
  • Tony/Toni
  • Tracy/Tracey/Traci
  • Willy/Willie/Willi

    Linda Phillips' Review

    Linda Phllips’ Review (PDF)

    ©1994, 2013 by Linda Phillips

    Source: Phillips, Linda. (1994, June). Identity management in transsexualism by Dallas Denny: Review. Gender Euphoria, 8(4), p. 2.

    Note: We here at “GE” thought you might enjoy hearing about some of the latest books coming into the community. In the last year or so many books have come out concerning our world and the people who inhabit it. Unfortunately you will have to obtain these yourself. At one time we had a lending library, need I tell you how that failed? Seems it became common to borrow a book and never come back either with or without the book! — Linda


    Identity Management in Transsexualism by Dallas Denny

    Reviewed by Linda Phillips


    While this book concerns itself with the TS making the transition from one sex to another, it is of great value to the transgenderist who wants to go full time. Dallas Denny is one of the best writers around the gender community. Her book is full of information about practical matters concerning changing one’s sex or just, gender. Dallas writes like she talks, in a friendly, easy to understand manner, taking the fear and stigma out of a subject all too easy to find scary negatives in.

    One of the more important chapters concerns what to do about that little problem of a job resume. A step-by-step procedure outlines the course of action best to take. Your job is probably the most important thing in your life during transition, for without it, a smooth changeover is difficult (No money usually makes many things difficult!)

    If you are undergoing therapy to obtain SRS, there are sample letters your therapist should write to any concerned persons about your gender problems. Many uninformed therapists don’t know how these letters should be written or that they should be.

    Name changes come in for a complete treatment as well as some very innovative thoughts on using names you might not have thought of. For instance, I once had a bank officer comment on my male name (James) which I was still using at the bank, and thought it unusual for a woman! Made me think of actually using it as my female name!

    Dallas makes the whole subject of transition a fairly simple, straightforward series of logical procedures which anyone can follow, be your goal SRS, or to live in the gender of your choice without surgery. Many of us who go through these changes do so on our own without any plan or help of any kind. This excellent book gives us a chance to do a better job.

    Bill Henkin's Review

    Bill Henkin’s Review, AEGIS News (PDF)

    Bill Henkin’s Review, Renaissance News & Views (PDF)

    ©, 1994  by Bill Henkin

    Source: Henkin, Bill. (1994). Know thyself (again): Review of Dallas Denny’s Identity management in transsexualism. The Spectator. Reprinted in ETVC Newsletter and Renaissasnce News & Views, V. 8, No. 9, September 1994, pp. 12, 17, and then in AEGIS News, V. 1, No. 2, September, 1994, p. 10.


    Know Thyself (Again)

    Review by William A. Henkin, A.D.

    Identity Management in Transsexualism: A Practical Guide to Managing Identity on Paper, by Dallas Denny, MA. (from Creative Design Services, King of Prussia, PA)


    The first official, surgically-assisted sex-change recorded in Western history took place in Germany, in 1883, when Sophia Hedwig had her external genitals altered and formally became Herman Karl. Early in the 20th century a well-known Danish painter, Einar Wegener, convinced he was really a female, went to Berlin to have his genitals removed and took the name Lili Elbe. Elbe died soon after a sec­ond surgery (intended for vaginal con­struction). The first sex-change opera­tion, according to gender specialists, took place in England, in 1949, when Laura Maud Dillon became Laurence Michael Dillon; and (considered by Westerners) the first sex-change operation is Christine Jorgensen’s, whose 1952 surgery took place in Denmark, and whose transforma­tion from male to female was publicized in newspapers and magazines throughout the worls.

    Some of the problems shared by Karl, Elbe, Dillon, Jorgensen, and the thou­sands of transsexual men and women who have pursued their dreams for wholeness in the final third of this century will be immediately apparent, even to people who never thought about the differences between sex and gender: breasts as well as internal and external genitalia to be built up or removed, body hair to be grown or dis­persed; voices to be altered; body con­tours, posture, gait, carriage, manners, and attitude to be reformed; family, career, relationships, and social conditioning to be utterly reconstructed.

    But wholly apart from these obvious difficulties of reconfiguring life— apart, even, from the less obvious psychological strain involved in resolving transsexual­ism— there is a very practical set of prob­lems few people consider (if not confront­ed with the need to do so). These prob­lems concern the paper trail we all leave behind that defines us, to a large degree, for our fellow humans.

    From the day we are welcomed to the world with a birth certificate, to the day we are welcomed from it with a death cer­tificate, our name and designated sex follow us everywhere. When we attend school, enroll for military service, or visit a doctor or dentist, when we apply for a driver’s license, a passport, or a library card; get a social security card number; pay taxes; buy insurance; seek credit standing; register to vote; are called for jury duty; become involved with lawsuits; when we marry or divorce; seek government services; calculate our own estates— from birth to death, who we are is defined for others repeatedly by these simple facts: my name is John, I’m a man; or my name is Jane, I’m a woman.

    Managing our own identity in the world is rarely a problem for most people, thought the tasks impinge on everyone all

    of the time— but for transsexuals it is criti­cal, because identity management determines so completely how we are seen and known by others. A few authors have addressed the subject in the past, but since 1990 only Legal Aspects of Transsexualism, by Sr. Mary Elizabeth, SSE has been indispensable.

    Now Dallas Denny has written what amounts to a companion volume to Sr. Mary Elizabeth’s book— and this is also indispensable. Though less complete than Legal Aspects regarding specifics of the law, Identity Management is also more prescriptive than descriptive, telling people how to achieve as well as define their goals. The book contains appen­dices with names, addresses, and model forms that are eminently useful. In addition, Identity Management is a delight­fully personal book, both because Denny illustrates with anecdotes from her own gender journey— and, she is a rather charming writer.

    When I moved to Georgia,” she writes, “I was armed with a Tennessee driver’s license identifying me as Dallas Denny. My photo was very androgynous. But the license said I was a male. I filled in the Georgia application, and checked “F” in the box which asked about my sex The examiner took my old license and began entering information into the computer. I held my breath, hoping she wouldn’t notice the “M” on my license, and she mustn’t have, for she said nothing, and when my license came back, it had an “F” on it. Of course, I might have been okay even if she had noticed. She might have thought it simply an error. If you pass suc­cessfully, and if nothing otherwise points out your transsexualism, the wrong sex designation on a document may be looked at as a mistake. It rocks the world of the clerk less to believe a mistake has been made in the paperwork than it does to real­ize someone started out as a member of the other sex.

    The world of American transsexual­ism is changing in profound ways. The first tribal elders remain important figures— in fact, as well as in myth— but for the most part they have made their impact.

    The next generation of leaders, now really the gender “old guard,” is composed of people who founded important organizations and edited publications that changed and defined a movement. Many of them are, appropriately, consolidating these gains for themselves and for their commu­nity. A new group of movers and shakers is coming to power in a radically altered world, where gender concerns are part of mainstream dialogue.

    In this world, Dallas Denny is a figure of value, and of growing importance—not only because she is founder and director of the American Educational Gender Information Service (AEGIS), publisher of Chrysalis, one of the most important contemporary magazines devoted to gender concerns, and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Outreach Institute of Gender Studies. No, Denny is important because she has something important to say, the willingness to say it openly, and the ability to say it in ways oth­er people can hear. Identity Management in Transsexualism makes all these facets of her value clear.