Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Living a Real and Authentic Life - Finding My Identity

Recently in real life (IRL)  I have had a lot of focus again on identity and it caused me to reflect my identity journey that I wanted to share with you.

You don't just come out and voila a new identity exists. Let me explain.

An identity for me started with who am I? That is not as inconsequential as I make it sound.  I knew was different since 9 years old, I just thought for simplicity that I was a cross dresser for so many years. That was until the perception of dressing changed for me, and I suspect many cross dressers who ultimately discover they are Transgender instead.

All along even cross dressing you want to be as in alignment with the persona you are dressing as. For me of course that meant I wanted to be as feminine as possible. That meant you think about, observe, research how to be feminine. While this means that I went from clothes only to adding makeup very early in my cross dressing journey, I always borrowed what I needed, careful to wash, fold, and put back everything as required. It also meant that I started to think outside me and to the world around me, it invaded my thoughts day and night, dreams and fantasies.

In my case I started to imagine this feminine persona that was without a name,  would kind of women will I be? I identified as a very girlie girl and I believe I live up to that in both my professional and personal presentation today. This concept for me meant that my makeup, way I dressed, footwear I selected all were very stereotypical female. I wanted no confusion with the person I was to who I was in this persona.

That escalates to improve the way I dress,  my makeup skill, the way I moved until one day even if you add shoes (heels of course) and wigs to create a better presenting persona, it's not enough

It was around this time I started playing with names, I tried many in private during these times, but Cynthia is the one that resonated with me. Not a Cindy as I come to find out is short for Cynthia, I am Cynthia in that persona.

I have another post that explained the origin on the name, but in short form if you don't know, Once I knew what kind of women was I in this persona, I reflected on who did I know through my lifetime in real life, on TV, in the movies, books, etc. that reflected that girlie girl persona. I knew 3 girls growing up between early school in Ireland, my first Canadian classes in Transcona, and one in Elementary in Fort Rouge who were all called Cynthia. By my memory they were all Blond or very light colored hair (not me), but they were all very girlie girl. By chance once I arrived at that point and had a name of Cynthia, it was coincidence or at least not conscious to also be my Grand Mother's name who I never met on my dad's side of the family. My persona was called Cynthia.

This goes on for another few years, all in private, escaping from reality just long enough to let Cynthia out for a little while before putting everything including that persona away again. The times between needing to dress and let Cynthia out escalated until what it seems became a pinnacle moment for Cynthia, a cross dressers wish fulfilled, a costume party on Halloween. End result is that effort to prepare and let Cynthia out was the catalyst for many events that lead to Cynthia's coming out to live my life for real. Thats when many of you found out about me.

Sometime through this I found out that my parents had selected a first name for me if I was born with female genitalia, that is what they were expecting. Better late than never! I was to be called Alison.

I was never ashamed of my family name, many transgender folks change even their last name to have a whole new life not connected with their old life. Professional and Personally everyone knew me, so this wasn't about to be a quiet transition in the background with this new girl showing up one day, I felt that I had to be open as that is who I am. So it was that Cynthia Alison Fortlage became my chosen name.

So what does it take to change your name and legal identity?

1) Since I had a new address, I had to get my own MB Health Card - Cost Free except for parking and time.

2) Due to address change update drivers license - $10

3) Get forms from Vital statistics website to change your name and gender marker; separate forms and application processes and costs - $260

4) Steps I went through in completing forms for Vital Statistics
- In order to complete forms 5 Dr visits required - assessment and intake re gender dysphoria, end result is they legally sign off you need this to happen - Positive outcome is I got access to HRT after assessment - forms completion cost $70
- You need to be finger printed and put into and checked against national databases - $75
- Gather copies of all documents related to who you were in Manitoba: Health, Drivers, Marriage

WAIT 6 WEEKS (They were fast by almost 4 weeks)

5) When certificates are received in the mail, cry for a while seeing that your province accepts you

6) Go back and change MB Health

7) Get drivers license updated, including new photo - $10

8) Go get Social Insurance Number name updated

9) Call CRA hotline to update your name

10) Update bank, credit card, financial records

11) Change any online profiles that need official documentation to issue a name change, there's LOTS of them. Still ongoing.

12) Start process with Immigration Canada to change name, same form for gender change.
- Medical sign off again - form completion costs $70
- passport like photo's - $12
- Legal costs to certify copies of paperwork as I wasn't born in Canada - $450
- Surrender every piece of paper that says your Canadian - SCARY
- Send paperwork back and forth via courier so it doesn't get lost - $100
- Application Processing Fee - $75

WAIT 4 MONTHS (I was able to get them to hurry it up by 1 month as I requested it in order to travel for business which was planned for April but I have now cancelled - another story)

13) When certificate arrives in the mail, cry for a while seeing that your country accepts you

14) Start Process to Apply for Passport
- Pictures - $12
- Friends to be references and Declare you - Priceless
- Apply for 10yr Passport - $160

14) Wait 10 Business Days for new passport, I might cry again

So 10 Months in, a fair bit of time & parking costs and at just over $1200 by my estimation of hard costs, I have paperwork that agrees with me , I am Cynthia Alison Fortlage

BTW, When I get my passport I can start to update my travel programs with Hotels, Airlines, Car Rental firms, etc. and with the US Government and my Nexus card which will cost $25 CDN to get a new card issued with my name and picture updated.

That's what it takes to get your new identity!

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