My Transition Diary

2019

16 June
I've now been on Testopel for four years, still inserting ten pellets every three months. You will pry it out of my cold dead hands. I'm a complete convert, even though there were some bumps in the beginning.

For the first couple years, the insertion site was getting infected nearly every time. This caused fluid to form in the area where the pellets were, and as the fluid slowly came out over several days, it took a pellet or two with it. (On the plus side, that meant that I got to learn what the pellets really look like. They really do resemble grains of rice, and are not capsules with stuff in, which is why you don't have to worry about them bursting or anything.) My urologist started prescribing me a five-day course of cipro (ciprofloxacin, 500mg, twice a day for five days) each time we did an insertion, which we still do every time. Problem solved.

I asked my PCP to run a bunch of labs for me a week after my most recent Testopel insertion, since my urologist only does labs when I come in for an insertion and therefore is only ever getting my trough levels. So here are those results:

Hepatic profile:
Total Protein: 6.7 g/dL. Standard range: 6.0-8.9 g/dL
Albumin: 4.4 g/dL. Standard range: 3.7-5.1 g/dL
Bilirubin Total: 0.6 mg/dL. Standard range: 0.1-1.3 mg/dL
Bilirubin Direct: 0.1 mg/dL. Standard range: ≤0.6 mg/dL
SGPT (ALT): 15 U/L. Standard range: 2-60 U/L
SGOT (AST): 17 U/L. Standard range: 2-50 U/L
Alkaline Phosphatase: 106 U/L. Standard range: 20-125 U/L

Lipid profile:
Cholesterol: 144 mg/dL. Standard range: ≤199 mg/dL
LDL Direct Measure: 78.4 mg/dL. Standard range: ≤130 mg/dL
HDL: 50 mg/dL. Standard range: ≥40 mg/dL
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio: 2.9. Standard range: ≤4.9
Triglycerides: 78 mg/dL. Standard range: ≤149 mg/dL

Hormone levels:
Total Testosterone: 1367.4 ng/dL. Standard range: 123-814 ng/dL
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG): 30.3 nmol/L. Standard range: 14.6-94.6 nmol/L
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH): 15.22 mIU/mL. Standard range: 1.27-19.26 mIU/mL
Luteinizing Hormone (LH): 5.95 mIU/mL. Standard range: 1.24-8.62 mIU/mL
Testosterone, Free: 369 pg/mL. Standard range: 47-244 pg/mL
Testosterone, Bioavailable: 884.9 ng/dL. Standard range: 130-680 ng/dL
Estradiol 17 Beta Serum: 43 pg/mL. Standard range: <15-34 pg/mL

Obviously my T levels are high, and it's aromatizing to estrogen. My urologist had said that was probably the case given my trough levels, but given that it's not affecting how I feel and it's not causing any physical problems (no, I'm not regrowing breast tissue), I shouldn't worry about it. I'm entirely fine with that.

I'm both amused and saddened to see that my FSH and LH are back down where they should be. Seems like my pituitary gland has realized that no one's out there and it's given up trying to make contact. Poor little thing.

21 June
I'm in the process of changing my birth certificate, and I can't find my name change court order. I requested a new one from the county probate court, and had the same issue that I had the last time I needed a copy: I don't have the docket number, because I don't have a copy of my name change, which is why I'm requesting a copy, but I don't have the docket number, because I don't have a copy ...

I called the court, and when I finally got through to a human being in the Name Change department (their phone just rings forever if no one's there - no recorded message, no voicemail), she was utterly unhelpful. I told her that I needed to request a copy of my name change but didn't have the docket number, and it didn't exist in the digital records at http://masscourts.org/. (I changed my name in 2000, but I had dared to hope that they'd digitized at least some of the old records.) Her response was a slightly snarky "That's because we didn't keep digital records then". I said that surely they still had it even though it wasn't digitized, and she said of course they did, but somebody would have to actually go and find the piece of paper, in a tone that made it clear that she had no interest in doing so. (The last time I had this issue, about 11 years ago, the woman on the phone was really nice and actually got up and went to the damn filing cabinet and looked for me.) She told me to just put my old name and new name on the request form and leave the docket number blank and it would be fine.

Big surprise: it didn't work. I just got all my paperwork back, along with a note that said:

This letter is to inform you that we found no record of this person. Please contact Vital Records and Statistics at [phone number]. Their address is [address, with the wrong zip code]. Ask them to find you a Docket Number and make sure that your file is a [county] County case.

Obviously they didn't even look. They saw that no docket number was included and immediately decided they couldn't be bothered.

I've now called Vital Records and Statistics, and spoke to a very nice woman who told me that they can't give that sort of information over the phone, but if I mail them a note, they'll be happy to send me the docket number. No form or anything, just send them a note.

All of this is to say: If you lose the docket number for any sort of court order, and it's not available via public records online, getting your hands on it again is a total pain in the ass. When you change your name with most institutions, they send the court order back to you, but it's worth getting a copy that's just for you and keeping it somewhere safe.

12 July
Vital Records and Statistics got back to me, about three weeks after I sent them a note requesting the docket number. Their response:
The Registry only maintains an index of changes provided to us by each probate court; a docket number is not a part of this information, only the original name, decreed name, year, and court of occurrence.

Okay cool, thanks for wasting my time and theirs. Somebody should maybe tell the court's name change department that they shouldn't be sending people to Vital Records and Statistics for docket numbers.

I spoke to a local lawyer friend, who confirmed that you do NOT need a docket number for them to give you your name change document. They can find it by name.

I called the court again today. Last time I called, when I spoke to the very unhelpful and unfriendly woman, I had used the automated system to get to the Name Change department. This time I called a different phone number, which gets you through to a human being, rather than the main switchboard. (Thanks to the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics for giving me the number.) The woman who answered let me get as far as "I'm trying to request a certified copy of my name change" before putting me through to the Copy department - NOT the Name Change department.

I spoke to Sharon in the Copy department, who was businesslike but without the slight "fuck you for calling" tone of the woman I spoke to before in the Name Change department. She told me the same thing the other woman had said: I don't need the docket number, just include the old name, new name, and approximate year of filing, and they can look it up. I told her I'd already done that and got a note back saying they couldn't find a record of my name change and telling me to contact Vital Statistics, which I did and was told that Vital Statistics does not keep docket numbers. At first she tried to tell me "Then that name change didn't happen in this court" - sorry, yes it did, I was there - but when I insisted that it did, she asked for the year and my old name and I heard her typing on the computer trying to look it up. She couldn't find it, but she told me to send everything back and mark it for her attention specifically, and she'd try again to find it.

I have now put all the original documents I sent them - request form for the name change copy, money order for $20, self-addressed stamped envelope - in a new envelope, along with the note I received from Vital Records and Statistics. I have written on there: "Sharon - this is included to verify that my name change did happen, and that Vital Records and Statistics does not have docket numbers." (The note they sent me, along with the "we don't keep docket numbers" bit, says "Your name change took place in [county] Probate Court in 2000.")

I'll mail everything in today, and probably post an update in another few weeks when I hear back from the court insisting that my name change never happened.

I know it's the least fun thing ever, but can somebody in that office PLEASE just get up and dig through an actual filing cabinet? Just because they didn't manage to digitize my name change doesn't mean they don't have it. These women I've talked to all sound significantly older than me. They know how to use card catalogs and filing cabinets.

19 July
SUCCESS!

Sharon in the Copy department is fantastic. She looked through their book of cases from 2000, she checked 1999 just in case, and she still couldn't find my name change. She called to let me know and I confirmed that it was definitely that county and the exact date that it was filed. (It's worth keeping track of those transition anniversaries, even if it's not emotionally significant to you.) She said she'd talk to the Name Change department and have them get out their book from 2000, and call me back to let me know. That was maybe an hour or so ago.

She just left me a voicemail telling me the docket number, which I've now saved. She said she'd have the document in her hand by Monday and would mail it out to me then.

As a reminder: the Name Change department was the first place I called, and the woman I spoke to was clearly not interested in helping me or looking anything up for me. If you need your document(s), go to the Copy department instead, and let the nice Copy people do that heavy lifting if they can't find your document in their own files. (They should have your document in their own files, which would enable you to bypass the Name Change people altogether.) I could have argued with the Name Change woman on the phone all day; Sharon got it done in an hour.

Hopefully the saga is now at an end! I'll be scanning the document and keeping it as a PDF so I never need to worry about the docket number again, and hopefully it'll be easier to hassle them if I ever need another copy.

One more time for the people in the back: KEEP A COPY OF ALL YOUR DOCUMENTS. Even if it was ages ago and you don't think you'll ever need them again. Put them in a safe deposit box, scan them and keep them somewhere safe, have a designated folder in your filing cabinet, etc., but don't lose them, because if for some reason the official record is harder to find than it should be, you will not be happy.

 

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