Defining yourself. Incorrectly.
Sorry for being pretty negative lately. School starts again on Monday, so that will probably distract me — or drown me in stress and wrong pronouns. I’m hoping for the former! But right now, I need to take a load off my chest.
There are lots of details in life which can become issues when you’re trans. Like when I wanted to sign up for an extracurricular class at school, and then I realized I would have to use my legal name. In that particular case, I happened to know the teacher, so we managed to work it out. But there are dozens of other little moments where things like old names can get in the way.
Before the holidays, a few teachers assigned homework that we had to send in via email. When I decided to change my name, I also changed my email address because my old one included my girl name. I kept my old one, too, although I only use it when communicating with family members. After finishing my homework, I had to be very careful to send it from my old account; I double- and triple-checked to make sure I was signed in with the correct user name. And then I couldn’t sign my messages, because there was no way I was signing my old name.
Being called by my girl name does hurt –depending on who says it, how, and how many times I’ve had to put up with it recently– but it’s nothing compared to having to introduce myself that way. Now that is corrosive. When someone else names me incorrectly, I feel misunderstood, or even detached: “oh, you mean me?”. When I name myself incorrectly, I’m betraying myself. I’m putting up with the way others define me.
In class, even though I have to passively accept the name that appears on the lists, I never have to actually assert it. I sign everything with my last name, and my very appearance is partially indicative of my gender. But the simple act of sending an email is an identity declaration, and in this situation I didn’t know how to declare myself without hurting my feelings or my grades.
Yes, I may have blown this slightly out of proportion. Maybe I’ve just been angsty lately, but sending those emails was painful, as was putting up with the teacher’s answers, which were fine, except for the name they called me. I actually abandoned my most important school project — it’s hard enough as it is, and I couldn’t bear the added strain of discussing it with my teacher via email. I’ve had that in the back of my mind for weeks, stressing me out, but right now I can’t deal with it. Not as a girl.
I hadn’t realized how important my name was for getting on with my daily life. When I see myself as a trans genderqueer boy, or whatever my identity is at the moment, I feel much more confident. That’s why the whole struggle to get my name recognized is worthwhile: it’s easier to sustain my identity when people aren’t using a name that denies it. In the meantime, I’m trying my best to hold my ground.
To be nobody-but-yourself-in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else— means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. —e. e. cummings