So I mentioned in my last post that I had an interview and had asked if I could be referred to as an alternative name- here’s how that went.
Getting ready for the interview: hadn’t had an email reply acknowledging my request, but also hadn’t had another reminder email. Assumed that they’d received it and went dressed in my normal clothes (a black t-shirt and jeans- it was a casual clothes interview).
Going to the interview: scared. Had they got the email? Would I have to go by Amber while looking like a boy? At the door when she was asking for people’s names, I saw that I was on the list with my preferred name in brackets. I said that one. It was weird saying it out loud for the first time, connecting it to me- but it didn’t feel wrong, just different.
Introducing myself: terrifying but I did it. It was a really nice atmosphere and a really nice group of people. I’ve missed being around groups of people my age and just hanging out since coming home from uni, and these people already felt like I knew them. I think a lot of that was that everyone was nervous but chatting and friendly. I think my voice was deeper when I first introduced myself and got back to regular pitch throughout the course of the evening but that’s cool. I’m ok with that. I don’t know how people were seeing me but I didn’t get the stares that quite often happen when I go out.
Having my name called out: Weird. So weird. The first time it happened was scary because it felt like they were revealing my secret identity- which I guess they were in a way seeing as I’ve never been called anything other than Amber before (that was really weird to type, I feel no connection to that name at all).
Overall it went pretty well and I had a good time. I figure that even if I don’t get the job I’ve had a taste of what it would be like if that were my name and found that I’m really comfortable with it, so there’s not really a downside. I would like the job though.
My aunt decided a couple of years ago to start going by her middle name instead because she prefers it, which led to mainly negative reactions from my family.
“Why would she do that? It’s disrespectful to mum and dad because that’s the name they gave her. She’s saying that she doesn’t like their choices”
“I don’t know, is she going to keep changing her name? I’ll just call her Cecil so she can do what she wants”
“Its so weird because she’s been -name- for my whole life and calling her -new name- feels wrong”
So everyone continued to use her old name. It was weird when she started working with my mum, mum used my aunt’s new name at work but her old name at home. I am guilty of not using her new name but that’s because nobody else was and they refused to accept it (which didn’t help but I didn’t want to confront anyone).
Back in January I changed my aunt’s name in my phone and started calling her by her new name, but only when speaking to her with nobody else about because they’re all still really weird about using it. In the past couple of months I’ve started using it in the group conversation with the rest of my family (instead of not using a name as I had been doing), while the rest of my family used her old name- sometimes directly after I’d used her new one!
A week or so ago she was in the hospital and my sister pointed out her wrist tag that had her date of birth on it, at which point my aunt turned to her mum and told her (again) that most people know her as -new name- now and nobody really calls her -old name- any more, so I said that I try to use her new name and she thanked me and said she’d noticed that I always do. When we left my sister asked me if she should start using my aunt’s new name too, if that would make my aunt happier, to which I replied that yes if thats her chosen name then she should respect that. Again my sister said that it would be so weird using her new name and she doesn’t think of her that way, but she also said that she’d try if it would make her happy. The next day on the group chat, my sister referred to my aunt using the new name which made me so happy, but still uses her old name when talking about my aunt when she’s not there. It’s a start I guess.
I guess the reason I’m writing this is because I’m scared. My aunt is a cis woman who decided to change her name to her middle name. If I decided to come out with my chosen name that isn’t remotely similar to my given name, I don’t know how they’d react. I’d rather they didn’t know and continued to use my name rather than knowing I don’t go by that and ignoring me. And that’s without even thinking about their reactions to the whole being trans thing.
Well not exactly.
Not to anyone I actually know, but online I’m going to start going by Jay. Amber is feeling increasingly foreign to me. It bothers me more online as it’s written so doesn’t go away, whereas in day to day life it gets mentioned and then disappears (if that makes any sense). Its also used infrequently enough in conversation to not bother me too much and I’m still not 100% sure on if I actually want to change my name, or if that will end up being my one of choice, and I feel like not telling anybody I know personally gives me the freedom to change my mind.
I’m going to go for they/them pronouns too, try them out online before I decide whether to use them generally- like my name they chafe slightly but pronouns aren’t often used a lot in conversation so it doesn’t cause a great deal of problems.
I feel like I’m going to start living a sort of double life but I feel much more comfortable changing my name/pronouns online where people I know can’t interrogate me on my choices. I’m not ready to deal with having to explain myself (possibly multiple times if I decide this isn’t right) or with certain family members and their opinions, so I’ll take it one step at a time.
At this point I guess the only thing left to do is to re-introduce myself.
Hi, I’m Jay. Nice to meet you.
“Hi, I’m Amber”
I’ve never really got on with my name despite having been told by multiple people that it’s “really pretty” (I had a teacher once who in the first lesson of the year stopped at my name when taking the register and told me that she loved my name. How was I supposed to respond to that?!). I like it as a name but it often feels like its not mine, that I’m borrowing from somebody else.
Changing my name has been something I’ve thought about for a long time. I think I was probably 14 or so when I first remember thinking that having a gender neutral name like Alex would be the coolest thing ever- nobody would know what gender you were until they met you! Alex has been a name that’s stuck around, occasionally fluttering up to the front of my thoughts; more so recently as I’ve been actively questioning myself. It still feels off, but in a different way to Amber which is familiar and comforting even if it chafes. My housemate has taken to calling me Ambrose until I decide on a name, its really nice as it feels natural as a nickname.
A few weeks ago I mentally corrected people to Ash whenever they said my name, but as soon as I even considered that as an actual possibility and wrote it down it stopped fitting and morphed into something completely alien.Whereas I mentally felt that it was right, something about it becoming real threw it off. [I’m not intentionally choosing alternative names that start with A, it just so happens that these are the names I like]
The name I’m playing about with at the moment is Jay- not using it but considering what it would be like if I did. I like it a lot, but I’m worried that the same thing that happened with Ash will happen. Looking at those two written near each other Jay feels more right so maybe it was just that Ash wasn’t a good fit for me. I don’t know if this is normal- when people change their names do they feel uncomfortable with it even if its one they’ve chosen for themselves?
Amber. Alex. Ash. Jay.
Jay feels right.