Chosen Name

I am so excited right now. (So excited, in fact, that I’m not going to bother worrying that I haven’t done a 101-ish post about trans-ish stuff on a multitopic blog in which readers might reasonably be expected to not be familiar with this topic and the associated jargon. Feel free to consult google.)

For months, almost since I first started considering that I might possibly be kind of sort of trans, I’ve been thinking about changing my name. My given name is very feminine. There is no way I could possibly introduce myself with my given name and not be taken for female, even if I were wearing drag or something. But, I’m not a very feminine person. At all. And it really bothers me to have such a thoroughly feminine name.

I think I might be agendered, or possibly neutrois. That seems to make sense. I don’t feel like I’m “a man trapped in a womans body” as the stereotypical description of what it feels like to be trans goes. But, I don’t know, maybe I am a transman. I can’t figure it out. Gender is just really confusing to me. I don’t get it. I don’t understand gender, in general, nevermind figuring out my own. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about gender lately, trying to figure it out.

Ever since I started thinking about this stuff, ever since I first considered that I might not be cisgendered, I’ve been really bothered by anything that forces me to identify myself as male or female, whether it is mens/womens restrooms or a drop down menu (with only male and female as options) on an email registration page. Or having to introduce myself, using my given name, which screams “I AM FEMALE”. I mean, when it’s some internet thing where I have to pick male or female from the option before going on the next page, I’ve taken to flipping a coin to decide which one to go with.

For several months, I’ve been thinking about changing my name to something gender-neutral, but I kept hesitating. What if I didn’t like the name I picked? What if I found one I liked better? What if I later figure out that I am actually a transman, and I feel like I’m stuck with a gender-neutral name when I really ought to have a masculine one? But of course, all of these things are just excuses. It is really not that big a deal to just ask a few friends to call you by your chosen name for a while, until you get used to it enough to see whether you like it. It’s not like I was going to try to legally change my name without testing it out first. It’s not something permanent. And besides, I really haven’t changed my mind about the particular name I picked out pretty soon after I started thinking about it. If there’s a name I would like better, well, I haven’t been able to come up with it in a span of a few months.

The most worrying thing, is wondering how my family will take it. It feels like I am insulting my parents by rejecting their choice of name, and if I really do want to legally change my name at some point, it will be necessary to have a talk with my parents about it at some point. I’m not looking forward to that. I’m most definitely not ready to explain all this stuff about gender to them, and I’m not sure how I could talk about changing my name without a good chance that would come up.

This weekend, I wanted to tell my brother and his wife that I’d decided to change my name, but I felt like it was too soon to bring up after the whole coming out as an atheist thing. I feel like I am always coming out as one thing or another. I let the moment pass.

But today, I was hanging out with my roommates, and I thought it would be a perfect time to bring it up, to ask them to call me by my chosen name. It was not easy to just say it. I hesitated for some time. Our conversation, however, afforded a perfect opportunity, when the subject turned to how difficult it can be to get used to calling a trans person by a new set of pronouns when they start to transition (it is really amazing how strongly it is ingrained is us, to automatically sort a person into a box based on what gender they seem to be and, once sorted, how very hard it is to change that). So I mentioned I was thinking of changing my name, and I asked them to call me by my chosen name. The one roommate went into a long heart to heart talk, telling me that she loves me for who I am, and that we are like family, and stuff like that. We’ve really become more than just roommates, since we moved in together. We are very supportive of each other. She often says how she doesn’t think she could have made it through the year without us (she’s been really unlucky with health issues). And it really means so much to me that she was so supportive with this, and is already making an effort to remember to use the new name.

And from now on when I introduce myself to someone new, I can tell them my chosen name and not be shouting “I AM FEMALE”. I feel giddy. I can’t believe how excited and happy this makes me feel. I wouldn’t have thought I could feel this way in the middle of this funk that I am in, that people call depression (and which I still question if that’s what it is).

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