Charlie’s #MomentsInTransition | Day 133
This week I read a post by someone I have been following for a few months (Andie Pas de Deux), about “dead-naming”. The post was mainly about her elderly father and his inability, or rather unwillingness to use her correct name or pronouns.
I am by no means an experienced transgender person. Today is day 133 since I even used the word transgender, out loud, in coming out to my wife. And what a rollercoaster it has been already. So be very sure to take what I ramble next as purely my own opinions…
What I am experienced in, is keeping my mouth shut, and staying out of grown up discussions. Or any discussions for that matter. This is how I was raised. So when people around me have discussions, and are talking about me, using my deadname or incorrect pronouns, I stay quiet. I let it go. And even when they notice me and do a double-take and realize what they did and try to apologise, I say it’s OK. Don’t worry about it. It doesn’t break me. Ye, no problem buddy. Yes it will take getting use to. Right, no, I didn’t concider how difficult it is for you to remember, my bad. And everyone smiles, and carry on, as if I didn’t just get stabbed by a thousand Samurai swords.
I don’t hate my deadname. Far from it. It was a well-chosen name for a first-born son; incorporating both my grand-dad’s names, in perfect Dutch tradition. But it’s not who I am. And although I don’t hate my deadname, I prefer to hear my preferred name. My wife, the person I feared coming out to the most, is the only one who persistently gets it right every time. She even knows when to use my deadname to keep me safe. It’s like she is so in tune with what I need and when. Wait what? Backtrack! She knows when to use my deadname to keep me safe? Yes. This is day 133, and I am not living full-femme. I don’t know if that is common or not, but most people seem surprised that I’m not all out femme all the time.
My journey, from my perspective, is brand new. So new, the price tag is still on it. And as such, I don’t femme to work (although they already know). I don’t femme out in public in my town (coz I just don’t feel comfortable or safe doing so). And, I don’t make an issue about my pronouns or preferred name, even though it’s my preference, and my right to have people call me by the name that signifies my true gender identity. I feel like I’m on a transgender probation period. Like you do with new employees. And for some reason I am still giving everyone else the benefit of the doubt. They’re trying. They’re adjusting. It’s a big change. Give it time. 3 months probation? 6 months? A year? More?
In a nutshell, I guess that is who I have always been. The one who lets everyone else adjust and be comfortable, because I am only one(1), and they are many. And as they start coming around, it actually has more of an impact on me. Because it is unexpected. Un-forced. Like one of my colleagues who out of the blue called me Charlie, without me asking him to do so. I almost choked on my coffee, ‘coz it was so unexpected. And gratifying.
Do I cringe when I hear my deadname? No. Do I cringe when I hear the incorrect pronouns? No. But I am sensitive to it. A little bit. I realise for the most part I have not changed much as I am still pre-HRT, and cannot expect others who have been living in their cis worlds for as long as they have, to suddely see a woman in me. I don’t even see her.
Will my view change eventually? Yes, probably. Many of my views and/or opinions are fluid, and largely depend on where I am emotionally. But on the topic of “dead-naming”, at least for now while I am still pre-HRT, my view is “whatever”. I just am not bothered by it yet. And that is OK. And for others who ARE bothered by it, that is OK too, they certainly have a right to be called by their correct names and pronouns, and they definitely have a right to be bothered by people who do not respect that.
The act of deadnaming refers to using the birth name of a transgender person.
A dead name actually refers to anybody’s original name, not just that of a transgender person, that has been changed.
For example, if a person was named Sarah at birth but later transitioned and asked to be referred to as Mark, “Sarah” is their dead name.
According to LGBTQ media guidelines, you should only ever use the name and pronoun the person provides.
You shouldn’t use their former name or the wrong pronoun, unless they’ve given you explicit permission.
For transgender people, our relationships to our names are complicated, to say the least. What we’re called has power, and hearing a blatantly masculine or feminine name applied to you when you’re trying to realign your gender in a different direction can be a source of profound, dysphoria-inducing anxiety. Hearing or seeing one’s old name can induce a visceral sense of terror that no matter how much progress one makes in their transition, the person they used to be (or pretended to be) is still there.
For example, referring to a trans woman as “he” or calling them a “man” is misgendering them.
Misgendering is offensive to transgender people and can impact their mental health and self-confidence.
People within the trans community are often subjected to nasty comments, particularly by trolls on social media, who deliberately, and repeatedly, misgender them.