I’m not big on this holiday that’s mostly all about making colonialism look heroic. However, there’s certainly something to be said for taking the time to be grateful, and I have a lot to be grateful for this week.

  1. Last Thursday, I went to bed feeling a little stiff. Friday I woke up in pain. I tried to push through it, but when I realized I could barely make it down the stairs let alone to the bus stop, I decided to call in to the office and work from home. The pain got worse as the day went on, and my ability to move decreased drastically, to the point that I asked my partner to pick up a cane for me on his way home. I ended up needing the cane to get around all weekend long. This might seem like an odd story to start a list of points of gratitude, but there are two big things I’m thankful for in retrospect: first, that I have a partner who is super supportive and willing to adjust plans when my body won’t cooperate, and second, that even though I deal with chronic back issues, they rarely get that bad and the intense pain has so far been limited to a few days at a time.
  2. My name change hearing was Monday. I was joined by a volunteer from TJLP (the organization that helped me the day I filed for the change), and a friend who happens to be a minister (and who wore his clergy collar, just in case). The hearing lasted all of five minutes; the judge was kind. I have multiple friends whose name change hearings were before judges who were not at all understanding, asked invasive and unnecessary questions, and only granted the name change after making it very clear that they did not at all affirm my friends’ identities. I am grateful that this was not my experience; I am well aware just how lucky I am. I was also able to get my new driver’s license right after the hearing, and because Illinois prints their IDs while you wait, I walked away with my first form of ID bearing my chosen name (and a much better picture than my old ID, which was the thing that taught me that I have “resting angry face”).
  3. I changed my name with the social security office on Tuesday. I am thankful that the process was quick and (relatively) painless, that the clerk was helpful, and that I heeded my boss’s advice to go to the office in Evanston rather than the one downtown: I was in and out in 20 minutes.
  4. Both my direct supervisor and my department manager checked in when I got to work on Tuesday to ask how the hearing went. My manager said that he was glad they’d been calling me by the correct name all along, and glad that the government was on the same page now. The HR contact for our department has been helpful in letting me know what I need to send them to change my name in their systems. I am beyond grateful (particularly in light of the experiences that I have seen more than one friend go through after coming out at work) that my workplace has been supportive throughout the time I have been here. I am inclined to say that I do not deserve this kind of luck, but I think a more accurate statement would be that everyone in this situation deserves this kind of luck, and too few people have it.
  5. I’ve received many words of encouragement from many people this week, whether via text messages leading up to the hearing or via Facebook comments or a stop by my office to offer congratulations in person. Every kind thought has reminded me that I am surrounded by incredible communities of people who support me, and I am humbled by and grateful for every one of you. I’m a seriously lucky human.

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