Name change a joyful step in personal journey

Smiling woman in bright blue shirt, holding court documents for changing her name.

Even as a young child, Marcie wrestled with what felt like a terrible mismatch. Her clothes were wrong, her name was wrong, and she was certain she was supposed to be a sister, not a brother.

“I just always knew,” she said. “I am not a male. I am female.”

But as a person with developmental disabilities, including blindness and speech impairment, Marcie had an especially difficult time advocating for herself. Now 59, she also has faced significant illness throughout her life.

“I’m not saying it was bad, but it was difficult,” Marcie said.

Still, she always held fast to what she knew to be true about herself and in June the Franklin County Probate Court approved her request to change her name from Mark to Marcie. Dateline is not using her last name because Marcie worries about harassment and discrimination against transgender people.

“A friend said I should make it close to my former name,” she said of her new legal name. “So I dropped the K and added C-I-E, and I love it. I’m so happy.”

Marcie wears her hair long and favors loose, comfortable skirts. She said she is grateful for the acceptance and support of her service providers, therapists, friends and service coordinator at the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Linda Pannell. Marcie’s guardian, local attorney Erin Sanford, also is supportive and worked with Marcie on the court process.

“It was her idea to get it done,” said Sanford, who has been Marcie’s guardian since 2014. “We’ve talked about it for a couple years now. She worked with her counselor, and it’s been a team decision that her name change would be a positive change for her.”

Marcie seems to be thriving as she feels freer to be herself. “She’s comfortable, and she wants to share her story,” Sanford said. “It’s a very positive story. It helps her to grow and have confidence. There’s strength there – and resilience.”

Marcie hopes that by discussing her experience, she can be helpful to others. “They’ll know they’re not crazy. It’s real. At 5 years old I would dress like a girl.”

Not long ago, Marcie’s sister found a letter Marcie wrote that had been tucked away in a file for years. In it, Marcie had tried to explain that she was transgender and a woman, “in heart and mind.” Though the discovery came late, Marcie was delighted and relieved at the reaction.

“We talked and we talked and we talked,” Marcie said, smiling. “And she said, ‘I’ve always wanted a sister.’’’