The Invisible Transfemme

At least I’m not running around nude, amirite?

Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta Herrick
Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart in “The Invisible Man,” Universal Pictures, 1933

In the movie “The Invisible Man,” Claude Rains plays chemist Dr. Jack Griffin, who must wear full body wrap — hat, goggles, bandages, gloves, coat, boots — in order to be seen by others. In a strange dichotomy, Griffin is only visible when he hides himself completely.

In a classic scene from the movie, Griffin removes a glove, then unwraps the hand underneath. He can be seen moving the hand, perhaps flexing it in front of his face, but the hand is invisible to the audience. Griffin is driven insane by his situation and only experiences redemption at death. His body becomes visible as he bemoans “meddl[ing] in things that man must leave alone.”

I can see my hand in front of my face. But I still feel like Dr. Jack Griffin as a transgender woman. To the world, I am visible only when I hide myself completely. This situation is evidenced by the ongoing saga of changing my name across all aspects of my life.

The Great Purple Name Change

The court order to change my name legally to Amethysta Selina Herrick was granted on 08 November, 2022 — a full three months at the time of writing.

I updated my name with the Social Security Administration, updated my Driver’s License, filed to amend my Birth Record, and changed the names on my Sally Beauty Supply and Ulta Beauty loyalty programs. Heck, I even ordered a new personalized water bottle! What could be more formal than that?

There are still aspects of my old name that need to be updated, including bank records, which I mentioned in a past article. All was well in that regard…or so I thought.

Chase credit card services

I first inquired about a name change with Chase Credit Card Services mid-December, 2022. They told me they needed to mail a letter with instructions. In fact, this drawn-out process was “for my own security.”

The letter asked me to mail a photocopy of my Social Security card and a photocopy of the court order for my legal name change. Think about that for a moment — mail my Social Security number and legal documentation of my identity?

So much for my security — I may as well have left my credit card out on the sidewalk at that point.

The letter also mentioned I could scan the documents and upload them to their server, although I know nothing about where those documents go; there was no obvious connection to my name and account. Again — if security is the goal — this may not be the best implementation.

Instead — for my own security — I walked into my local Chase Bank, had the documents faxed directly to Chase Credit Card Services, and sat down to wait.

After three weeks, I still had not received my card, and I called back. It turns out Chase Credit Card Services had a fax with one number of my Driver’s License cut off, which meant they did nothing. I asked why I wasn’t alerted of this error, but apparently Chase Credit Card Services only reaches out when everything is successful, not when there is an issue. I presume this is for my security.

So I walked back into that local Chase Bank to get my documents faxed to Credit Card Services yet again. I was assured this time it would work. As proof, the person helping me said he would email me as soon as he got confirmation the documents were received.

I called back two days later — he had not received the confirmation, but it appeared all was in order from what he could see. He told me he’d call back the following Thursday to smooth the way.

Thursday came and went with no call, and after another week, I called the branch office yesterday. The person who had helped me before was busy, but they connected me to Credit Card Services directly.

According to the customer service representative, there was a request for a name change…but no record of any documents ever having been received. I was to mail the documents or — failing that — to upload them to this unknown server. For my security.

I probably yelled at the customer service representative. After two months, I’m in the same place I was. I have been using cash to prevent having to look at, be identified as, or addressed with my old name. In the event I was forced to use the card, I felt a jarring sense of not-Amethysta. When I could, I avoided buying anything, including food.

I’m only trying to be who I am; never did I consider a name change on a credit card from a trillion-dollar bank would be this difficult.

SIDE NOTE: During the two conversations I had with Chase Bank representatives yesterday, I was called “Miss Herrick” three times by two different people. I guess the voice lessons paid off, even if I’m still having troubles with family and friends.

By Amethysta’s blood

To change gears completely — as part of hormone therapy, I must have regular blood tests. Transgender treatment — for me, anyway — is considered elective and not eligible to be covered by insurance. Health care insurance is a saga on its own, but suffice it to say that highly-paid software consultants can only afford poor insurance coverage. Now that I make no money as a writer, our insurance coverage has improved dramatically.

Before I began hormone therapy, I used my old name. Labcorp — who draws and analyzes my blood for hormone concentrations — knows me by my old name. As a result, I could not add my insurance to my Labcorp Profile because the policy is in my legal name. Off I went to my Profile to change my name and go merrily along my way…or so I thought.

On my Profile, I was met with a phrase that seemed dreadfully familiar. I was not allowed to change the name in my Profile.

For my security.

Supposedly, if there are sufficient public records to substantiate a name (and I have no clue what records that might refer to), I would be capable of updating the name myself. It appears three months of court ordered name change, updated Social Security records, amended birth record, changes to bank records, new insurance policy, and modifications to beauty supply loyalty programs do not qualify as “sufficient public record.”

I sent a help request, including detailed information — my old name, my new name, my address — everything they requested and more (I’ve always been an overachiever). I waited a little more than a day, then received an email asking for the invoice number as well as every bit of information I had provided before.

Now…there was no invoice. I’m trying to add an insurance policy. I replied stating as much and included all the information from the previous request. I don’t want to take any chances.

It has been three days, but no reply. Despite owning a lovely new insurance policy, I am not able to use it. I cannot find a phone number to call Labcorp support. I am at the mercy of email, and I doubt insurance will be set up before I need my next blood test in two weeks.

Who owns my identity?

I feel as if I am being reasonable in these two situations. After all, is my identity based on my bank statement? The brand of credit card I carry? My health records? The concentration of bilirubin in my blood?

No. I own my identity.

Yet my identity is held hostage by companies like Chase and Labcorp — ostensibly for my security. In reality, I feel it is because I do not truly exist.

As a transgender woman, putting on a dress has been like Claude Raines unwrapping his arm. The more I present as Amethysta, the less visible I become. After all the work I put in, the affirmation I received, the legal and social changes I’ve made, I still do not exist until I convince the likes of Chase and Labcorp that yes, this really is me.

Obviously, I am not a cisgender woman who has been married. However, I find it remarkably difficult to believe that taking a married name could be this difficult on them.

That said, women who marry and take their husband’s names do so as part of a ritual sanctioned by our government, our community, and conservative politics. They are able and encouraged to assert their new identity as part of this glorious ritual of subjugation to their new husband.

I — on the other hand — am just some fucking dude in a dress. I do not have the right to assert who in the flying hell I am. I do not exist.

Moving forward

So…what will I do?

I will close my Chase credit card account — no rewards program is worth the sheer humiliation of two months of begging a bank to recognize me. I will also ask my transgender care provider to send new records to Labcorp with my new name.

The history from both former accounts will simply be lost. I wrote before about a friend of mine who blew up her life — walked away from her old identity. Apparently, I must do the same.

If the only way to exist in my new life is to excise my old life, so be it. I’ve tried to be Little Miss Nice Purplepaw. I’ve tried not to meddle in things that man must leave alone.

Fuck it.

I sound my purple meow over the roofs of the world.

Better watch out.


Amethysta Herrick

Ami is a transgender woman dedicated to exploring identity and gender. She is Editor-in-Chief of Purplepaw Publications, LLC.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the offical policy or position of Purplepaw Publications, LLC. Please view the Disclaimer page for further information.