Sunday, June 11, 2017

Changing the Things We Can

We went to court a few weeks ago to have my grandson’s name legally changed from what he was named at birth, when we all thought he was a girl, to the name he has been using the last two years.
The name change is part of the gender transition process, and an affirmation of who my grandson feels he really is. Each step toward making his external self more congruent with his internal self is a step toward peace for him.
For the rest of us – well, every milestone in the process of your transgender loved one’s transition requires an internal giving out and taking up of emotional slack for you, the parent/guardian/loved one. With each change it sinks in a little deeper that the original expectations you had are no more. The person you knew is gone, and before you is the exact same person, with a completely different identity.
You suck it up because you love the kid. You remind yourself that life is anything but predictable. After all, what else in your life turned out exactly the way you expected or planned? Your children who are not transgender handed you plenty of surprises, too, didn’t they?
We showed up at court with paperwork in hand. We got in line. Copies were made of legal papers, and money was paid for the process. Then we filed into the courtroom to sit and wait our turn.
It looked like a slam dunk. Paperwork, check. Money paid, check. All that remained was to have the judge approve the name change.
The first couple of name changes, bam, no problem. Then we were called. I, as my grandson’s legal guardian and petitioner for the change, stood up with my grandson. The judge asked a few questions.
He asked if the birth parents approved of this name change. I answered yes, because we had spoken with his birth parents, who both currently are living in other states, and they were okay with it.
Then the judge allowed as it was possible to grant the name change, but he wasn’t going to do it that day. He wanted us to get written permission from the birth parents saying they were okay with the name change, and we would have to come back for another hearing in a few weeks with that paperwork before the name change would be granted.
Here’s how court works: the judge gets what the judge wants.
Fortunately my grandson’s father was coming to Vashon for Christmas, so I was able to get him to write his permission note while he was here. The other grandmother spoke with my grandson’s mother, and a note was obtained from her, as well. It was all looking good. I got up that morning expecting to go back to court.
Plot twist.
My grandson is a type 1 diabetic. On the morning of the second hearing to legally change his name, his blood sugar numbers were high, and a quick test showed he was shedding ketones. So he and I were off to the ER at Children’s Hospital to determine if he was going into diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA.
If left untreated DKA can kill you. You can look it up.
We spent six hours at the ER getting my grandson back on keel, and most of that time was spent waiting. Blood work was done which showed he had not gone into DKA. Yay.
Meanwhile, back at the courthouse, the other grandmother entered the parents’ permission notes into the case file, and the hearing was postponed until two days later.
Two days later a different judge, a woman this time, looked over all the paper work and granted my grandson his name change. I was surprised by what an emotional moment it was. I felt pure joy. So much so that my grandson thought I was being kind of lame.
Some places try to obstruct transgender people by refusing to allow name changes. I feel blessed to live in Pugetopolis, where the liberals roam. I’m glad we got the name change now, because I don’t know how the legal climate is going to change for LGBTQ people in the next four years.
I did not expect to have a type 1 diabetic grandchild. I did not expect my diabetic grandchild to be transgender. These are things I cannot change.
Sometimes it seems that life is all about making peace with what we can and cannot change, not to mention wrapping our heads around the changes we were not expecting. These are not original thoughts with me, but I’ve been pondering them a lot lately.

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