I changed my name and gender but forgot to tell the credit bureaus
- I recently tried to get my credit limit increased, but my account was frozen.
- I learned that when I changed my name and gender, I forgot to tell the credit bureaus.
- I dream of buying a house, but I have to jump through this hoop to get closer to that goal.
I recently moved and was trying to buy some furniture for my new place but I’m having a credit limit. So I called the credit card company to ask for an increase in my credit limit.
Since I’m now trying to be smart with my money, I’ve only been buying what I had in savings to cover my purchases, but I’ve been using the store credit card to cash in on the rewards points. However, I learned that the company cannot increase my cap due to a security hold on my account.
Communicating with the three credit agencies, I made an embarrassing discovery: I forgot to update my name with them when I changed it nearly four years ago. As a result, seeing someone with a “different name” trying to use my Social Security number resulted in my accounts at the three major credit agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, being securely frozen.
This person with a different name was of course me.
I knew I had to legally change my name when Trump took office
Back in 2017. I had been on hormones for three years but was still living in public as a man for fear of family rejection and the impact of my transition on my job prospects. I had just started working as a public defender, and Donald Trump was in his first year of his presidency.
I remember attending a Trans Day of Remembrance rally with my partner in November, which was particularly moved by the presence of a president who is outspoken against our rights in the White House, and then back home to watch online news stories about trans people having trouble renewing their lives. Passports or having the correct name and gender on them for the first time.
Rumor has it that the Trump administration, which is already opposed to serving transgender people in the military, was quietly changing the Obama administration’s policy of allowing name and gender changes on US passports without proof of surgery. I knew then that I couldn’t wait indefinitely and decided to change my name ASAP.
Life as a modern public defender was a mess, as was my personal life, with many moves and my sister’s wedding all over the next several months. It took nearly a year to get the ball rolling, but by the following October, I finally made it into the courtroom and filed a legal name and gender change petition.
The process for changing the legal name and gender is actually quite simple in California, thanks to a bill introduced by then-California Assembly President Tony Atkins and signed by former Governor Jerry Brown, which went into effect again in 2014. No surgery required, just a letter From a health care provider stating that the applicant is receiving appropriate treatment in connection with his or her transition.
There is also no longer a need to hold a formal hearing before a judge or to publish your intention to change your name in the newspaper. I simply dropped the name change form and my doctor’s letter during my lunch break one day and received the court order the following week. This was the quickest and easiest part.
From there, I had to jump through several other episodes: getting a Social Security card with my new name; Use that and a court order to get a new birth certificate; Use all three documents to obtain a new driver’s license; And using that in addition to the court order and social security card to update the name on my bank, investment, and credit card account.
Then I informed my supervisor of my plans, and on June 28, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and Sacred Heart Feast (a deliberately chosen date in both cases) I went to work by my purebred self. I thought I would have taken care of everything, until a few weeks ago.
I forgot to tell the credit bureaus about my name change, which is hindering my dreams of owning a home
I was, understandably, very embarrassed by my censorship. Four years ago I didn’t even think about my credit score, let alone the fact that I, as I did with everything else, would have to update my name at the credit bureaus, or that my score would have to be above a certain threshold to qualify for a mortgage.
I was too busy navigating my life as a misdemeanor trial attorney, getting the ball rolling on my long-stalled legal transition, and scheduling my surgeries. I’ve been living from paycheck to paycheck, not really planning my money, getting over pure feelings!
Now, even though I’m trying to be responsible, I’ve finally had to address this long-neglected loose end in both my financial and personal journeys. Three consecutive phone calls and I finally got the addresses I needed to send my paperwork. Fortunately, the papers are what I already have: my court order; Identification card; and a Social Security card. An annoyance, more hoops to jump through, but essential on the path to achieving my financial and personal goals.
Once I get my name issue in order with the three credit agencies, I hope to get back on track with my ultimate goal of owning homes. I plan to get and review my three grades and build up my balance and savings so that I can finally fulfill my dream of owning a home in my real name.