My name is Steve.
Well, no, it’s not actually. Like any parents, nearly 28 years ago, my parents were presented with a bundle wrapped in cloth and gave the wriggling pink mass a name. As far as names go, it was a pretty good one, actually. It had sentimentality and tradition. It sounds nice. I can write it down on official documents and feel good about it.
But it doesn’t feel like my name. It feels like a strangers name. It feels like someone I used to be, and now I’m not. I’ve grown, shed my skin, moved to something else, learned about myself and grown further. I’ve loved people, lost people, joined communities. Laughed, cried, and all those human experiences. I’ve changed; It’s a full 28 years, nearly, since I was given that name, after all.
At the end of last year, and the start of this one, I started on what very much feels like a new journey. After six years of contemplation, discussion, and trying to do the right thing for myself, I came out as genderfuild.
I’d been inching my way towards it before that. I didn’t like the fact my online profiles were set according to biological sex, so I changed the ones I could and hid the ones I couldn’t. Then, after a while, that wasn’t enough to keep the nagging dysphoria at bay, so, on one of the more accepting websites that allowed you to pick genders and display them right by your name, I picked “genderfluid”. I discussed this change with close friends and new strangers, weighing my reasoning and trying to find the words for what I could feel in my body and mind.
I discussed pronouns with other genderqueer people. With people who couldn’t understand how I felt no matter how hard they loved me and tried. With people who threw back transphobic rhetoric. I was asked about my genitals, I was asked about where I wanted to go with this; surgery or hormones or… I was invaded with questions. Stripping back my ideas as I tried to find the source where I could stop the bleeding of a pain I knew was real but couldn’t find.
I’m not male. I’m not female. I’m not genderless. I am female. I am male. I am genderless. I’m both. I’m one. I’m all. It changes day by day. Some days I want to slice the gender modifiers away. Some days I’m fine with the way my body moves and exists.
So I announced it. I wrote it all down. I am genderfluid. Please use they pronouns. This is not a phase. I repeat, this is not a phase.
By this point I’d whittled my friends down to the ones that understood. I’d pulled in love and understanding by being open and honest. I’d discussed everything so readily. I lived and loved, for the most part, in a small bubble of society I knew would understand anyway, I knew they knew this had been a long time coming and I knew I was advancing into the arms of acceptance.
So while coming out was a big deal, it wasn’t sad.
But outside my bubble, there are always going to be people and entities that do not understand. That don’t get that this was a long time coming, a decision not taken lightly, an agonising journey. And with one move, one of them swept me away.
They want my birthname. They want my identification, scanned, sent off. To change my name to the birthname I abandoned a decade ago. To subject me to being misnamed and misgendered on a daily basis, instead of once every little while at a doctors office or council desk.
I felt something crumple inside of me, that day. I stared at my screen and knew, overwhelmingly, no matter what, I was going to face people who don’t want to believe my gender is real. Who didn’t appreciate my desire to keep that name hidden in documentation away from the tips of my friends tongues. I want my friends to call me by my real name, not my birth name.
I don’t want to change my name, officially. I want to keep that small piece of tradition, of the hope and love my parents had for me when they were presented with me, 28 years ago. I don’t want to have to explain to them why the baby there were given then is not same person now, to go through the backwash of questions and assumptions and misunderstandings. Not right now, anyway.
So I’m stuck. Nearly adrift from something I’d used to build a network of support and understanding. I’ve had people suggest other methods of staying on facebook; but there’s no fight. They can still do it to other people. They can do it to me again. It will change nothing. I will be forced to live a part of my life as someone I’m not, one way or the other.
I might as well pick the one way that feels true to myself.