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Small name victories

April 19, 2009

This week has been pretty tough for me emotionally –I encountered one or more gender-related problems every single day– but a few nice things happened, too.

One of my teachers is extraordinarily gay-friendly. She’s married to a man, but she keeps bringing up gay issues and addressing homophobia. This week we had to turn in a group paper for her class; everyone in my group had written their full name, but I had just signed my last name, so at the end of the period she called me aside. “Why didn’t you include your first name?” I panicked: “I don’t know. No reason.” She left it at that, but I saw her in the hallway later on and I apologized for being so blunt and defensive. I told her that I do not like my first name at all and I don’t use it.

I didn’t think it was necessary or wise to explain any further; not all gay-friendly people are trans-friendly. She probably figured me out, though. In any case, she won’t call me by my first name; that’s a relief. It might seem an insignificant detail, but hearing my legal name over and over again gets stressful; if it weren’t, I might not have decided to transition socially.

I also started an extracurricular class this week. I almost didn’t sign up because I didn’t know what name to use –what if I had to show my ID?– and because I already knew the instructor from another course I attended as a female. I ended up sending him an email explaining, very briefly, that I had changed my name.

I decided that if he didn’t accept my new name, I wouldn’t attend these classes; I wouldn’t voluntarily go somewhere where I have to endure female treatment (except for school, which is worth it). I remembered this teacher as a nice guy, but some apparently open people don’t understand trans issues at all. It turns out that I worried uselessly: he sent me an even briefer email saying “Ok, see you!” and from the minute he stepped into the class he called me “he” and my new name.

Moments like these make me hopeful about the future.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Renee permalink
    April 19, 2009 2:12 pm

    I know what you mean.

    Although I’ve been fulltime since August, I haven’t been able to execute a name change yet (been dealing with a bankruptcy, which pretty much requires me to hang on to the old name until its clear, since all of my credit is listed under that name). For the most part, it doesn’t cause too many complications. Work is cool about it – even to the extent of setting up proper e-mail addresses for me and everything – so the only time I really hear that old name is when I get a call from a creditor or some such thing.

    But recently I had an opportunity to get involved with something really meaningful, something I really wanted to do – become a crisis counselor volunteer for an organization that helps domestic abuse and sexual assault victims. The only problem: They only hire women for this position, and not only is my legal name a boy’s name, but my legal gender is male, and will be until I can drum up the cash for srs (which may be never). Fortunately for me, and for them, they were willing to look past the legal mumbo jumbo to see that I’d be right for their organization, and it pleased me to know that not everyone in the world is hung up on the labels our government has saddled us with. Everywhere I’ve went that’s been the case really, and it gives me hope for the future.

  2. April 19, 2009 3:35 pm

    Victories indeed! Great show of courage on your part too. ;)

  3. April 19, 2009 4:18 pm

    I’m really glad that your teachers and role models have proved themselves thoughtful enough to take this well! :D

    Every once in a while someone will surprise me… I’ll expect them to be smallminded and transphobic, and then they do something amazing.

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