Being Transgender: Not Your Typical DMV Story

Photo of a door at a DMV

Visiting the DMV can be a harrowing experience in and of itself. The lines, the process, the wait – often packed filled with people. Lots of people make this process uncomfortable, hot, the seats are very close together. Space is not usually very accommodating at a government facility. 

There are members of the community however that will find this visit to the DMV even more vexing. One community that experiences this is the transgender community, which I am a part of.

The stares. The looks. If I was simply walking down a street, I could dismiss this and just walk faster. I will grant you I have many that consider me (through the grace of hormones, genetics, and sheer, damn luck) a more “passable” trans woman.  Regardless, there is often something just a bit “off” about me to cisgender people.

Yet at the DMV, I am gridlocked into a position of enduring this. Forty-five minutes later – I am moving up to the booth. I have eyed the document I am attempting to modify. It has my deadname – the given name I have rejected and discarded  – on it on the title.

I hold my breath, having displaced the anxiety of waiting and having my eyes lowered the whole time to not attract any attention. Move to the booth – having paid off my car and not have a lien release to title the name entirely to me. The area is an open space well within earshot of others. 

The attendant at the booth (a middle-age female) asks what I need and I explain. First – she asks where (insert deadname) is. I then have to explain that I am the same person and had a legal name change. I discover later that this is on a report she investigates and prints out – looking at a screen would have mitigated this first part. 

I then have to explain that and request this name be removed. I then have to sell “myself” the car. Sign. As the deadname. Acknowledge the existence and tap into the memories. And pains. And sorrows.

There is something about a signature. When I first wrote Ysandril Morrigan – the feminine flow of my name, the way it felt on paper, the way it showed who I am. To then sign as the opposite, the lie, the monster whose memories are tied to rape, bullying, suffering and insurmountable pain and be exposed in the eyes of the public as such. I go into a state of shock.

The coup de grace comes when I am told that I came to the wrong county office. I must go somewhere else and potentially relive this entire horror from start to finish again. 

I leave. Defeated. Mortified. Anxiety provoked. And must now drive to work and progress as if nothing has happened. 

I went to the DMV to celebrate my owning my car. I left, riddled in dysphoria and wanting to cry, still incomplete. 

Government officials, providers and persons who serve all communities: please truly serve ALL communities. Learn about transgender sensitivity and inclusivity.  Learn about pronouns. Learn about the human beings who just want to get their titles transferred and not have their entire world tossed into a metaphorical blender. 

We all deserve respect, dignity and equal access to all public domains of assistance.

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