She is well, anxious to be home, and all is ready. Stephanie is coming home–tomorrow! I spoke briefly to her this evening. Before we signed off, she thanked me for being with her on the journey. She thanked me! Astonishing.
This is the lady to whom I have turned again and again as I worked my own way through this long and tortuous process of becoming Karen. It is Stephanie who has been my mentor and my guide all this way. When I applied for my legal name change, just over a year ago, it was Stephanie who sent me a long and thoughtfully collected list of everything I must do once the approval come through: change the name on the bank accounts, the credit cards, the title on the property, the car insurance and registration…. “This is how you get them to change the “male” on your new driver’s licence to “female,” even though you’re still pre-op. You’re living as a woman. For your own safety, you need your documentation to identify you as a woman.” (There were a few happy tears when the change went through; I remember well.) And on, and on.
It was Stephanie who listened patiently through those painful first few months when I was unwelcome in my own home, and it was Stephanie who celebrated and encouraged me as I reached out and began surrounding myself with new and loving frieneds.
It was Stephanie who shared her cover letter with me–the one that accompanied her referral to MSP for her evaluation for surgery. This was the letter that listed all the documentation she had to support her application. Stephanie, you see, is retired, as I am, and her documents were not strictly within the prescribed guidelines–but they accepted them. It was Stephanie who assured me, again and again, that they would do the same for me. And when the time came to submit my own application, it was Stephanie who advised me to send the package in a month or perhaps even two, before my 12 month RLE was up. (“It usually takes three or four months to get an appointment. Anticipate this, and send it in early.”)
The applicant, of course, cannot submit the request on her own behalf. It must come in the form of a referral from someone with a medical degree. Stephanie sent me a copy of the letter her doctor had written, so mine would know exactly what he had to say. It was Stephanie who helped me cherry pick the documents I had accumulated. (“Don’t send everything…just the most important ones,” she said.) And it was Stephanie who went over my cover letter–modelled on her own–before the package went in. (“I love the wording,” she wrote me, “some of the passages in particular!”)
It was Stephanie who reassured me, when I confessed my fears on the eve of taking this next big step. (“You are ready,” she told me. “Just smile and look them in the eye. Be yourself, and you will be fine.”) She said that more than once. She knew I needed to hear it. And when the approval came at last, it was Stephanie who led the dancing and the cheers.
Now, tonight, on the eve of her return from Montreal, she thanked me, for being there with her on her journey. I am just so grateful to have been allowed to come along for the ride. With all that I owe her, how do I even begin to thank her for being here with me on mine? It is my turn, I think, to lead the dancing and the cheers.