Choosing a Name is Hard

At some point last year my friend said (for some reason, I can’t remember why) that my male name would be Jasper. That’s stuck with me and I’ve been thinking about it a lot the past couple of months. Recently I’ve adopted it as my name. First because I like it as a name, and it feels right. And it doesn’t feel too masculine to me, it feels like a name that allows me some femininity- if that makes sense. That’s my main reason for liking it I think. As well as this, its also a gemstone (the only male gem name!) which matches my birthname. That’s less important, more of a factor of like “hey that’s neat”.

I messaged this friend before I went to sleep one night last week with a simple question: boy names that suit me. They did not disappoint- sending me several long messages (starting with the fact that Jasper is their go-to name for me) and then so many name suggestions, each with a little comment or explanation, or whether they thought it would fit me or not. I’ll be honest, I read it all through several times before replying, and went back to it several times, just because I was so touched by the amount of thought that had gone into it. At the end of the message stream was a question- was I thinking of going by a different name or was this for something else?

Boy, did that question give me anxiety. I sent a reply back with my thoughts on the name suggestions and that yes, I was considering using a different name but am still figuring stuff out so just looking for ideas at the moment. They replied that they get the figuring out taking time, that its been years and they still don’t know. They offered to send some example sentences with my name/pronouns, to skype if I wanted to hear it out loud and I returned the offer. It was nice to come out and be come out to at the same time, its good to feel that I have someone I know that I can talk to if I need to.

Someone I was at uni with who tried to befriend me but I was kind of an asshat to them and ignored them a lot because I had a lot of stuff to deal with has recently been tagged in several pictures/posts on Facebook by someone called Jasper. Who is also trans. I know its silly but when I see these posts I just feel horrible, like I don’t want to take a name of someone that someone I know knows (is that grammatically correct?! I feel like it makes sense. I hope it does). It’s like…I don’t want to somehow be seen as copying, because I’m doubting myself enough as it is and having them there makes me feel like an impostor, or like I’m imitating others.

But I get an awful lot of comfort from my name if I just repeat it over in my head when I feel like people are misgendering me mentally, so I think I’ll keep it.

Changing Perceptions

I don’t go out much, to interact with other people in person. But recently my hours at my job have been cut back seeing as its not event season any more, so I’ve been focusing my energy on my Etsy store on the days I’m not at work. That means that I have to go to the post office if I sell something, or run errands seeing as I’m the only one at home. And I’ve been helping out my grandad with his hedge on Sundays when a guy comes round with a hedge trimmer.

When I leave my house my goal is to try and pass as male. If I look at myself and see a ‘boy’ I’m happy. I speak in a deeper voice. I’m not sure how effective it is, and sometimes I feel self conscious about people seeing me as a masculine woman but I find that just taking a breath and mentally repeating my name to myself calms that.

So I see myself as a guy. That’s starting to cause some problems with how I see my body but I’m working out a couple of times a week and that helps that. I don’t think I’m a man, leaning more towards a nonbinary-male identity. Transmasculine as opposed to trans male. I see myself in this way and I want to be seen in this way but… I don’t. When guys call me ‘buddy’ or ‘mate’ I get uncomfortable, which is strange because that’s what I want, isn’t it? And he/his pronouns just feel totally wrong…it’s like…thinking of myself as a guy as a concept is fine, but in words it freaks me out? Maybe its an adjustment thing, I’ve got used to perceiving myself in a certain way but not other people seeing the same thing, and I’m definitely not used to being referred to as something completely different.

I had a dream the other night in which I’d asked my boss to call me by Fuschia, and then spent the rest of the dream mentally correcting him to my new name. That’s the first time that’s happened in a dream, that I’ve been called by my correct name. I guess it means that I’ve found one that fits. That I’m comfortable with it. Now I just need to get comfortable with other people seeing it too.

 

 

I Did An Interview-Using My New Name!

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.

 

 

 

Comfort Zone

I’ve been feeling more masculine lately. My dysphoria has been acting up. I want to tell somebody. Anybody.

But I’m afraid.

The thought of introducing myself to new people with my name and pronouns is way more comfortable than having to adjust my existing relationships. Its the kind of feeling like, I don’t know what people would be thinking if they had to start referring to me as something else. Would they be comparing me to their expectations of what I should be like? Paying more attention to me? I don’t want to change anything about my interactions with my family, but I don’t want to be the Me that they know any more. I just want to change to the way I want them to see me; to have always been that way. But I love that I was socialised as a girl. It’s hard to explain.

I don’t think my friends would have a problem with me coming out, but family…that’s a tricky one to try and guess the reactions. And with my sister going to uni in a couple of weeks and everyone being under a lot of emotional strain because of it, it doesn’t seem like the right time. At a family gathering today, people saw me with short hair for the first time. They said it suited me, asked if I missed my hair. I spent a lot of time chatting to my younger cousin who’s grown up so much in the year or so since I last saw him its unreal. He felt closest in age to me even though he’s 10 years younger where the age gap with some of my other cousins is only a couple of years. My other cousin gave me a high five as we left instead of the standard hug. It made me feel great, it felt like a way more masculine thing to do instead of the hugs I was getting from everyone else- I just wanted a handshake like all the other men were giving each other. And to tell people to use he when referring to me.

I have a job interview tomorrow. The original email that was sent out gave an outline of what will happen, followed by the fact that we should get in touch if we had any special requirements. After um-ing and ah-ing for a couple of days on whether asking to be referred to as a different name counted as a special requirement I got a reminder email even though the deadline for replying was over a week away. I took the leap. I haven’t heard anything back so I’m honestly not sure what to expect tomorrow. And if they do use my new name it’ll be the first time I’ve used it in person so that’ll be weird. But still, it seems easier than getting to know someone and then changing in front of them- I know that I would still be the same and they would still be the same, but there are differences in how people treat those of different genders and it would be so weird to have people interacting with me in a new way.

Another thing: whenever I think about telling somebody about how I’m feeling or try out my new name in my head, I backtrack. I get scared. I’m suddenly convinced that this isn’t me, that ‘girl’ is the right label. Or if not right, its the one that I’m attached to. I’m not ready to sever that tie just yet but I feel like it’s holding me back. I can feel as comfortable as possible in my body and then my sister says something along the lines of how I definitely don’t look like a boy and am obviously a girl and I just deflate. I see myself as a rather feminine guy. I don’t want people to see me as a stereotypical lesbian. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against lesbians or masculine-presenting women, I just am not one of them and hearing that I am is probably the worst form of misgendering for me. I’m used to hearing my name but when I spend time trying to make myself look more masculine just to be told it doesn’t work it’s demoralising.

So yeah. My comfort zone is uncomfortable right now, but more comfortable than the alternative. Weird.

 

Conflict

Every time I consider coming out

Start thinking about what I’d say

Something inside of me grabs hold

Of the label I don’t fit

Shelters “Girl” and hisses at me 

For trying to take it away

Leg Hair, Don’t Care

I work in a tiny little company. Literally in someone’s garage (although it has grown massively since Christmas when I was last at work) washing and drying glasses and crockery that my boss hires out. It’s an alright job, my hours are whatever I want to work, the other people are nice and I can wear what I want, even if it does pay minimum wage.

My boss refers to me and the other people that work there as ladies a lot, when he’s greeting us or talking to us as a whole which is like ehh because it’s general rather than being direct, but it does still feel slightly wrong. And I mean, I got the job because I’m female- the guys he’d employed before me had been far worse at the job than the girls, so he decided that the next employee should be a girl- so I can’t really complain. Without that I probably still wouldn’t have a job thanks to the need experience for job, need job for experience cycle.

For the last few weeks at work I’ve been wearing jeans and it has been HOT- nearly 30 degrees most days and humid from the dishwasher- but I didn’t want to wear shorts because I haven’t shaved my legs since December and y’know, being referred to as a lady I feel like I should have the smooth legs that are expected (my family are weird about things like that so I think thats a major influence). I don’t even think about it any more but whenever I wear shorts my family comment on it…or sideeye me. I haven’t been brave enough to wear shorts in front of extended family yet, these are my parents and sister.

The other day my boss was helping out and asked why we were both wearing jeans in this weather so I made the excuse that my shorts were still packed up from being at uni (mostly true, I had one pair that was unpacked and the rest was still in my suitcase), but it got me thinking- what if I did wear shorts to work? How would people react?

When I got home I texted my friend with my problem: its so hot at work and shorts would be so nice to wear, but wearing shorts means exposing my legs and I don’t want to deal with the possible comments that may come with that. She made the point that they’re my legs and that I should be allowed to do whatever I want, as well as the fact that I’d be way more comfortable (physically if not mentally).

So yesterday I wore shorts.

My dad stared at me when he noticed my unshaven self but didn’t say anything, I think he was trying to process the fact that I was going out in public with hairy legs (the horror!). When I turned up at work I was met with a greeting of “Heeeey! The shorts are out!” from my boss and that was the point I was like who cares. They’re my legs. And I will show them as much as I want to while wearing ‘boys clothes’ and still being ‘a girl’. Screw society.

 

Passing

I know that “passing” as a concept is problematic- it reinforces gender norms/stereotypes- but for the most part people look at others and try to fit them into their neat little boxes of male or female, so it happens all the time without conscious thought. Passing isn’t something that happens a lot to me but some days I feel more like I look male and seem to be seen as male too- probably a confidence thing. Also I think it really depends on who I’m with, I’m much more likely to be read as female if I’m with my friends.

At the gym I’m pretty sure there was a lady there once who read me as male, she went to the far end of the changing room and didn’t move from her corner until after I’d left. Another time there was someone who double checked that she was in the right changing room after seeing me. I felt bad about that, but still no inclination to use the male changing room. And on the whole, as swimming is the only time I use the changing rooms, as long as I get changed quickly there isn’t a problem.

The other day I went to the beach and got pretty stressed out when I needed to go to the toilet- I was wearing masculine clothes and a binder, how would women react if I went into their bathroom?- but it turns out that they were unisex, something I really wasn’t expecting.

Today I went into town and needed to wash my hands after eating (curse you, greasy food!). I hesitated for a moment before following my friend into the women’s bathroom, feeling like although I was dressed in ‘man clothes’ I probably wasn’t passing. The look of confusion and defiance from a small girl as I came out said the opposite.

This afternoon, still not feeling like I pass very well I went to get a coffee and was addressed as sir. Sir! I got nervous-the worst thing about being referred to as male is the person hearing your voice and correcting themselves, so I spoke quietly and tried not to act as flustered as I felt. It didn’t feel right, but whether its because that’s one of the first times its happened or because I wasn’t expecting it I don’t know.

***

 I wrote this a while ago and it’s been sat in my drafts waiting to be published. I still feel like I pass much more when I’m alone than with people, but also that I’m more likely to be seen as male by women than men.

 Also something that’s started to bug me more is being out in public with my family because they use my name so often, and it feels kind of like being out with them using my name and she/her pronouns ‘outs’ me? I’m not really sure how to explain it, but it definitely gets to me more when I’m around a lot of people than being at home.

Name Changing in the Family

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.

Shopping

I went shopping today with my sister which was really fun. She was super uncomfortable when we were in the menswear department and kept asking why I buy men’s clothes now- but I was equally uncomfortable in the bras when she was shopping there.

In certain stores, I know that some of their lines of clothes fit me in a specific size, but jeans and things are always hit and miss so need to be tried on. I went and waited to use the changing room and the guy on the door asked the lady in front of me how many items she had, then noticed me and asked me the same. Which was fine, but as I answered he obviously changed his mind on ‘what I was’ and looked embarassed. This changing room had the weirdest system I’ve ever come across, the guy had to scan the tag that says how many items you have, and some had Male written on them while others had Female. The changing rooms were in opposite directions.

I got given a Female tag.

I was uncomfortable, the people emerging from their changing rooms as I passed were uncomfortable, and when I came out some of the guys in the queue looked at me confused. I probably could have asked for a male tag but I didn’t particularly fancy drawing attention to myself. Why do they need to be separate anyway? Nobody can see you once you’re in there and plenty of other stores have ungendered stalls.

I also bought some new boxers and when I got home my dad (who had been out to get dog food) joked that he had new underwear for me and my sister, and held up a packet of boxers. So when I said that I’d take them if he was offering and showed him the ones that I’d bought he was surprised. So now he knows that I own men’s shoes (which I wore for my graduation with my suit) and boxers.

I mean it was a pretty good day and I feel like I can get rid of some more of my clothes now I have things to replace them with, but I’ll be sure to check out how the changing rooms work before I try anything on in the future.

Leggings? No Thanks

I recently spent a long weekend at a friend’s house for her birthday. On Friday we went to an indoor place with loads of trampolines. I was torn. Should I wear the shorts I’d taken? Jeans didn’t seem very sensible. Shorts would be fine but that would mean being brave enough to show my legs which I haven’t shaved since December. One of my other friends offered to loan me a pair of leggings which I accepted, it seemed like the perfect solution- until I put them on.

I haven’t had any major anxiety since January time, but wearing those made my heart rate go through the roof, and I felt so sick. It was just wrong. They weren’t my legs. In the end I wore my shorts and felt so much more comfortable.

Something else that got to me this weekend was the way in which everyone treated one of my other friends. She often refers to herself as the Prince of ___ and y’know, just generally presents as masculine. And that’s cool, I love that. It’s nice to have her about because we’re so similar in so many other ways. But one of my friends in particular seemed to go along with her being A Dude but kind of ignore me if I said it about myself? (I mean they’re closer anyway and she’s always been like that whereas its pretty recent for me so…)

However someone came to the house who is living with a trans man and everyone was really cool about it and used male pronouns when talking about him. That was nice. I did the thing where you play on your phone when someone is talking about something that nobody knows applies to you (and I think my friend got really intense about her drawing but that might not have happened).

It was a great weekend but it definitely brought home how little I feel like a girl. I’d much rather be a guy in the group- but I spent time thinking that although I’d like to introduce myself to strangers as a ‘he’ I don’t want to go through the coming out to people I know.

On a different note, I’m graduating on Monday and despite my mum’s best efforts to stick me in a dress I’m going to wear a shirt and tie. And I’m going to look great.