It's done. Successfully.
I went to the Brighton Law Courts Building at 9.20am this morning. I'd been told that the magistrates would hear Declarations from 9.30am, before the other cases were heard. It looked like two Declarations today. Only one concerning gender, though: mine. I was second in line. In fact we had to wait until 10.00am, when the magistrates arrived. I was seen at 10.15am. It was all over by 10.30am. The place was Court 5, down in the basement.
I'd dressed soberly in black and grey. My long dark grey Windsmoor overcoat, taken off and carried on my arm. A grey and white striped top. A black knee-length skirt. Black tights. Black flats. My ordinary black handbag, not the Prada bag. My usual plain silver jewellery.
I did not want to seem flash or frivolous. My back was straight, and I held my head high, but I was also very polite and deferential.
I had with me a large document case containing three copies of the Statutory Declaration as downloaded from the GRC Panel website, and printed out. Also that page of the GRC Application Form which asked for details of the magistrate witnessing my Declaration. Plus all the supporting documents for my Application, just in case any were asked for. Such as my Decree Absolute.
But all they asked for was a form of ID. I had my passport ready. The one that had 'F' for my sex. I could see that a passport was the very best ID one could produce. It went down well with the three magistrates who saw me.
There were two men and one woman, all slightly older than middle-aged. Perhaps they took it in turns to hear people appearing before them. They sat high above the rest of the court. It was slightly intimidating. Only the man in the middle spoke to me. None of them gave away their thoughts or feelings by any expression that I could catch. They looked at me closely only when I actually made my Declaration. The man in the middle wished me a good morning when I left: that was all.
Assisting them was a nice woman who acted as usher, and an equally nice (but surprisingly young) woman who acted as clerk.
My ID examined, the clerk then asked me to read my Declaration. I did so in my best voice. It was high and clear, and I managed it without hesitations or mispronunciations. Christella Antoni would have been proud of me. This was what I declared:
I, Lucy Melford, do solemnly and sincerely declare that:
1. I am over 18 years of age.
2. I have lived as a female throughout the period of two years since I transitioned in November 2009.
3. I intend to live as a female until death.
4a. I hereby declare that I am not legally married in my original gender to someone of the opposite sex.
4b. I hereby declare that I am not in a civil partnership in my original gender to someone of the same sex.
4c. I hereby declare that my former marriage or civil partnership was dissolved on the 25th of June 1996.
5. I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declarations Act 1835.
I didn't have to swear on oath. Just to say the above words.
The magistrate signed all three copies of my Declaration. And completed the 'witness details' part of the Application Form. I had all I wanted. I retired gracefully. Job done. Ordeal over.
Then it was back home for a nice cup of tea.
What next? The Application Form itself. And then get it posted by some kind of special delivery. I decided I would refine my evidence of full-time living first. Then get it all off on Wednesday morning. So much to fit into a crowded week!