Neither of us seriously contemplated sexual reassignment surgery for her during our first meetings, but gradually this option became more and more compelling. Ms. Clayton no sooner took one step forward, than she was comfortable with it, and ready to move to the next. She has accepted disappointments and found ways for dealing with them, but for the most part, she has gloried in her new life as a woman. ... I have no hesitation in supporting her request for gender reassignment surgery.
-Letter from Dr. Catherine Payne dated Jan 12, 2009.
The Harry Benjamin Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders state that two letters from mental health professionals are generally required for genital surgery. I got my first letter in the mail two days ago, from Dr. Payne. The second will be from a therapist who evaluates me and corroborates her recommendation. I need to get that second letter soon. My surgery date is less than 2 months away. I'm scared, but I'm ready.
It was also exactly a year ago today that a judge signed an order granting my request to change my name legally to "Suzanne Jennifer Clayton". That was more or less the start of my so-called "real life test", another requirement for surgery. I remember seeing that piece of paper in my hand and feeling the gravity of what I'd just done, of what I was committing myself to. Up until then, I was "Suzanne" to some friends and family and "Scott" to the world. One signature on a piece of paper changed it, and suddenly all of my IDs would start carrying my new chosen name, bringing me further past the point where I could comfortably turn back if I weren't ready.
Dr. Payne and I reflected recently on how far I've come since we started meeting in June of 2007. She didn't expect me to end up where I am now. She confessed to me that when she first met me, she thought I was probably gay or a crossdresser or just confused sexually. I'm glad she didn't tell me that at the time, because it would have crushed me, even though back then I didn't know where I was going to end up or what I was, either.
Maybe I surprised myself where I've ended up, or maybe I always knew where I wanted to be but just wasn't sure how I was going to get there. In any case, here I am now, staring at another document with the power to help me drastically change my identity. This one is the culmination of a year and a half of self-exploration, self-reinvention, and trying to establish my new place in society.
It seems like it shouldn't fit on such a thin piece of paper. This letter carries a lot more weight than you'd know from feeling it in your hands.