- I tried to get my credit limit increased recently, but my account was frozen.
- I learned that when I changed my name and gender, I forgot to tell the credit reporting agencies.
- I dream of buying a house, but I have to jump through this hoop to get closer to that goal.
I recently moved and was trying to buy furniture for my new place, but I was hitting my credit limit. So I called the credit card company to request an increase in my credit limit.
As I now try to be smart with my money, I only bought what I had in savings to cover my purchases, but used a store credit card to take advantage of rewards points. I learned, however, that the company could not increase my limit because there was a security hold on my account.
While contacting the three credit bureaus, I made an embarrassing discovery: I had forgotten to update my name with them when I changed it almost four years ago. As a result, seeing someone with “a different name” trying to use my social security number resulted in a security freeze on my accounts at all three major credit agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
That person with a different name was, of course, me.
I knew I had to legally change my name when Trump took office
Flashback to 2017. I had been on hormones for three years but still lived publicly as a man for fear of my family’s disapproval and the effect of my transition on my job prospects. I had just started working as a public defender and Donald Trump was in his first year as president.
I remember attending a Trans Remembrance Day march with my partner in November, a march made particularly dark by the presence of a president who was openly hostile to our rights in the White House, and then returning home to see online reports of trans people struggling to renew their passports or get their name and gender correct for the first time.
It was rumored that the Trump administration, already opposed to trans people serving in the military, was moving quietly the Obama administration policy to allow name and gender changes on US passports without proof of surgery. I knew then that I couldn’t wait forever and decided to change my name as soon as possible.
Life as a new public defender was chaotic, however, as was my personal life, with several moves and my sister’s wedding happening over the next few months. It took nearly a year to get the ball rolling, but the following October I finally walked into the courthouse and submitted my petition for a legal name and sex change.
The legal name and gender change process is actually quite simple in California, through an invoice introduced by then-California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and signed by former Governor Jerry Brown, which went into effect in 2014. No surgery is required, only a letter from a health care provider. health indicating that the applicant is receiving appropriate treatment related to their transition.
It is also no longer necessary to have a formal hearing before a judge or to publish your intention to change your name in the newspaper. I simply dropped off the name change form and letter from my doctor on my lunch break one day and picked up the court order the following week. This was the quickest and easiest part.
From there, I had to go through many more steps: getting a social security card with my new name; use this and the court order to obtain a new birth certificate; use the three documents to obtain a new driving licence; and using that plus the court order and social security card to update the name on my bank, investment and credit card accounts.
I then informed my supervisor of my plans, and on June 28, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riot and the feast of the Sacred Heart (a date deliberately chosen on both counts), I went to work as authentic myself. I thought I had taken care of everything, until a few weeks ago.
I forgot to notify the credit bureaus of my name change, and it’s hampering my dreams of home ownership
I was, naturally, quite embarrassed by my forgetfulness. Four years ago, I didn’t even think about my credit scores, much less the fact that I should, like everything else, update my name with the credit bureaus, or that my scores should be above a certain threshold to qualify for a mortgage.
I was too busy navigating my life as a tort attorney, moving forward with my long stalled legal transition, and scheduling my surgeries. I was living paycheck to paycheck, not really planning my finances and living on pure vibes!
Now, however, since I’m trying to be responsible, I finally had to sort out this long-neglected issue in my financial and personal journeys. Three consecutive afternoons of phone calls and I finally got the addresses I needed to send my papers to. The documents are, fortunately, what I already have on hand: my court order; IDENTIFIER; and social security card. A bore, more hurdles to jump through, but necessary on the path to achieving my financial and personal goals.
Once I settle my name issue with the three credit agencies, I hope to get back on track with my ultimate goal of home ownership. I plan to get my three notes, review them, and build up both my credit and savings so I can finally achieve my dream of owning a home in my own name.