My Birth Certificate

As of 7am this morning – I am legally a woman!

I just received the email and was so excited I had to come blog about it!

So January of 2016 I began the process of legally changing over my name from Christopher Michael Childress to Kris Audrey Nova..  and my gender from male to female..

Now the name change was easy.. but the gender change was a little more challenging…

To say the least I am astonished at how hard s/m/f/g can be for some orginizations!

But at the end of the day the process was linear and was a bit of a dependency graph. Once I had my social security information correct (new name and new gender), I was able to begin walking my way down the tree and ultimately was able to change over things like my passport and my driver’s license.

Being born in Texas

So growing up in Texas is a completely other story, but what is relevant to this post is the fact that I was born in Texas. Which means if you were to go look at my birth certificate, it would reflect this information (and unfortunately, it does).

Big Tex

So I never really thought much about this, and to be honest I didn’t even realize I had any legal ties back to the state of Texas but I was wrong. Very wrong.

So I get to the point of my transition where it’s time for me to change my birth certificate. Which remember is kind of a huge deal, because it’s kind of what gives me citizenship to this wretched and defiled wasteland of a country I live in.

So I spend some time googling, and discovered I needed to contact The Texas Department of Vital Statistics in order to update my birth certificate information. So, proudly wielding a folder containing every type of legal document imaginable (court orders, passport, license, social security card, etc), I decide to make the call.

  1. The first call they just hung up on me when I mentioned I needed to change my gender
  2. The second call nobody answered
  3. The third call I was lucky enough to speak with a very annoyed woman who told me I needed a court ordered gender change and of course, hung up

At this point in the process I considered myself an expert on name and gender change, and have never once heard of a court ordered gender change.

I began googling around and found some very interesting articles from other transgender folks who have also been dealing with this issue. Then I began to do the math, and I realized what was actually going on here…

Control of a birth certificate gives lawmakers implicit control over you

What I mean by that exactly, is that the birth certificate laws are made at the state level. Also that states can (and in the case of Texas and North Carolina do) structure bills with this in mind. Here is a snippet from the famous Senate Bill 6 that is going through Texas courts right now.

Senate Bill 6

So naturally, getting a court ordered gender change was next to impossible…

So thanks to the help of r/transgender I was able to make the jump, and get an attorney on board. So a few thousand dollars later, I was now fighting a legal battle with a court. Why? So I could get a court ordered gender change.

Here are some things I was asked to do while in the process of getting my court ordered gender change:

  1. Sexual reassignment surgery (once of the riskiest surgeries in the world, that I don’t want to have)
  2. Fly to Texas so a judge could size me up, and see if I looked and sounded like a woman
  3. Spend a few thousand dollars

Being stuck

So the process began in January of 2017 after I hired my attorney. Right about the same time the CNCF began advertising it’s conference in Austin Texas. This is a tech conference held twice a year that I am deeply involved in and is a major aspect in my career.

I teamed up with the CNCF to fight the bill mentioned above for various reasons, one of which being that I was having such a hard time protecting myself and getting my birth certificate changed. This was a real concern of mine. I genuinely thought that the Texas lawmakers were going to win this one against me.

I felt if I went to the conference, I could wind up in jail.

This was the first time in my life I have ever felt legally discriminated against.

..It fucking sucked…

#winning

So 7 months, and several thousand dollars into this process my attorney was able to pull through. I am not sure what black magic they pulled on their end, and I frankly don’t want to know. I received a copy of my court ordered gender change this morning. Signed and sealed by a court in Texas!

So now I am lucky enough to sit on the phone with Texas Vital Statistics again.. this time equipped with the court ordered gender change. I then get to spend more money and 60 – 90 days for a birth certificate to arrive in the mail (hopefully).

Which means…

What did I learn?

So my big take away here is that it’s not always easy to be different. But that is what makes me proud.

I am proud of who I am, and proud of these battles that I was able to overcome. Trust me, it wasn’t easy. I cried, had anxiety attacks, I would get angry – it was not fun for me by any means. But I was able to push through and get it done…

…literally with people laughing in my face.

Now I am not saying any of this is okay, or we should stop fighting for what we believe in. I am just reminding everyone that behind every battle, is an opportunity to win.

So fuck you bigoted lawmakers who tried to hurt me and make me feel ashamed of who I am.  I am proud of who I am, and that is the most American thing I have said in a long time.

I want to help

After going through this process I know how much of a pain in the ass it can be. So I want to volunteer my time and money to helping one person a year do this same thing.

If you know a transgender person who was born in Texas send them my way. I have an attorney and a credit card ready to go!

I just want to make this process a little easier for anyone else going through it..

You can reach me at kris@nivenly.com

Disclosure

This is not legal advice. Don’t listen to me, I am fucking crazy. If you want legal advice talk to an attorney, not me.

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4 Comments

  1. Pradeep Singh

    July 27, 2017 at 16:29

    Hi Kris, attended your gophercon talk in Denver this year and must say I admire your courage and positivity, at both professional and personal level.
    Keep doing your thing. You go girl.
    Godpseed.

  2. daily proxy

    October 20, 2017 at 23:04

    Hi there,I read your blog named “My Birth Certificate – Becoming Kris” regularly.Your story-telling style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing! And you can look our website about daily proxy.

    1. kris

      October 28, 2017 at 02:14

      “keep doing what you’re doing”

      Fuck… I was planning on not doing that

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