What’s in a name?

My birth name was a really unusual name and that was one reason I didn’t feel the need to change it for a long time. It was also easily mistaken with the male version of the name… I didn’t think of it as a girls name, it was just my name. I didn’t know anyone else (alive) who had the same name as me so when I changed my name I thought that was the last time I would hear it. We gave it to our baby as her middle name since its both a traditional name in my family and because it’s a beautiful name and we wanted to pass it on. Lately I’ve found that apparently a lot of other parents think it’s a beautiful name too. Our neighbors daughter also have it as her middle name, another girl in the parent group have it as her first name, my mums boyfriends relatives baby have it as her middle name and so on. Almost half of all the babies I know (female) are called it either as their first or middle name. And every time I hear it I want to comment how common the name has become and have to stop myself from saying something like “I used to be called that…” I guess most people can suspect that I’m trans, but I feel safer as long as they don’t KNOW that I’m trans. The fear of being wrong keeps people from gossiping. Imagine the embarrassment and social suicide if it turns out that I’m actually a biological man or if the person they’re gossiping with is convinced that I am a man.

I’m going to a open kindergarten for kids with accompanying adults, organized by the church. The first time I was there my wife came with us and apparently the teacher read me as female because she was careful to state that our baby came with her mothers… It was a blow to my self esteem and also a bit embarrassing to be called “mother” in front of people who only knows me as male. I didn’t bother to make a scene about it and didn’t correct her at the time, but I thought hard and long about how to handle it the next time I came to the kindergarten. Apparently I didn’t have to worry about it, the next time I came I had suddenly transformed into my baby’s dad… I (thankfully) suspect that one of the mums corrected the teacher after we left the last time. I do get read as female a lot now and I’m still hesitant to correct people. Mostly because I feel that it’s not their fault when they misgender me, it’s not their fault I still look like a woman. And as long as I’m not meeting them again in the foreseeable future I don’t bother to rock their boat. But when I went to get a flu shot and the nurse asked if it was the baby or “mum” who should get the shot, I actually corrected her. I felt that I could do that because she had just read a paper I gave her stating my name. I still don’t know how she managed to interpret “Fredric” as “mum”.

The constant misgendering by strangers is starting to get to me. Up ’til now I’ve been in charge of my transitioning and I’ve been able to influence the way I’m perceived. But now it seems like I’ve come to that point that no matter how male I dress, act and speak people still read me as female. It’s like there’s no point in trying anymore because it won’t change a thing. It sucks knowing that the only thing that will change people’s gender perception of me is hormone treatment. Especially when that still is so far away in the horizon that it feels unreachable. I still have a few gatekeeper-hoops to jump through and more importantly there’s a lot of time to sit off between the hoop jumping. I have no idea how long it will take before I will be able to access hormone therapy, but I fear that it will take roughly a year. A year of continuously misgendering by strangers. Hopefully I get fed up enough to correct them better and more often. Maybe that’ll boost my confidence enough to make up for all the times I’m put down by people using the wrong pronouns.

5 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

  1. The name topic is really interesting to me. My former name, still my legal name at this point but long abandoned in terms of going by it with friends, was very, very common here in the UK. I am not exaggerating when I say I was once in a small college class (15 people) where 1/3 of the class shared my first name. It was made worse by the fact that I’ve never liked it either. It never felt right.

    Fast forward to a few months ago I was in a room with a few new friends and they mentioned someone who had my old name, instinctively I had a weird urge to comment about how I hated that I used to have that name but then I realised… nobody in the room knew, I was just Mia to all of them. Which was a really nice feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve still to arrive at “nice feeling” about that. For me it’s just hard to have to watch what I say around people – again/still. I need to transition because I need to be me and erasing my history around certain people is not being me. It’s trading one closet for another (for me anyway…)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Totally understand.

        For me I think a big reason why I appreciated that moment is that I spend a lot of time around my family lately, who I know do not respect my gender identity at all and don’t even try to play along. So the first time I was with people who I knew didn’t care I was trans and just accepted how I identify 100% without thinking about my past. Like to elaborate most of the people in the room were queer in some way and were a ridiculously accepting bunch, I was being open about being trans but it was different as it felt divorced from my past. Like being me was “normal” to them unlike with my family where they see putting on an act as being “normal” and anything else as different.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The whole gatekeeping thing just sucks, as does the inability of many cisgender people to get that if your name is Frederic, and you present as male, they should read you as male instead of silently insisting that you “pass” before they accept you as male.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And who passes anyway? I know guys with higher pitched voice than me, guys with femininish bodies and guys who are more female-acting than me who no one mistakes for a woman (well, maybe over phone…) And why is that? It’s so frustrating that no one seems to know the real reason one is read male, female or other. I also find that women are the ones misgendering me. It seems like guys look at presentation more for clues to pronouns and don’t see or care about the other clues. Women, it seems, read everything but presentation. Female friends also slip up way more with my name! I really hope that will change when I’m on T, I’m hoping it will make it near to impossible to associate me to female pronouns. I hope it will tip the scale my way.

      Liked by 1 person

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