Dead names and Pronouns

This has been a tough 24 hours, it has. I think it really can be hard for people who’ve known us for a long time to keep our new name straight, twenty or thirty years of history do not vanish overnight, nor does our prior identity as a man or a woman change in their memory, or ours.

Then what I need to say I say to all my loving friends that first, I do forgive your lapses. These no longer, at least individually cause me the kind of heartache they used to. It used to be it was this entire challenge to my identity. If I’m feeling strong I may be able to stand it a couple of times and just bear it.

Sometimes though I’m feeling vulnerable, really vulnerable and those innocent slips, and they absolutely are, can cause real pain. It makes me legitimately question what I should be doing with myself. Perhaps really start over with a fresh community who only knows Rachel and has no baggage.

Why do trans people call it their dead name? I can only answer for me. I acknowledge that part of my life. I would not wish for that part of my life to have not happened – many things I greatly cherish came from there including a loving marriage and a wonderful child.

That part of my life is over and done and it seems like a different existence. It seems like I was a different person, a person who struggled to be a man because he wasn’t one. A strange man who was talkative where men are quiet, emotional where men are stoic, and quiet when men are boisterous. A women inside who was constantly afraid of doing the least feminine thing for fear of being found out.

Do you wonder why that isn’t something I like reliving? As the line went “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, the same can be said for things best put aside.

The pronouns are more complicated. It’s more of an irritation these days and it almost never happens, even on the phone. But the other week a help desk call person did it over and over again despite knowing my name and having been corrected, and then more over this weekend. Trans women always worry at some level about passing. Despite having absolutely no reason to worry on that account, the wrong pronouns tweak that paranoia button on hard.

In mixed groups where there are people who do not know our past, the wrong pronouns and our old name outs us. As you doubtless realize, that’s our decision.

Passing for me and other trans people is not just a matter of vanity. In some places it can be a matter of safety or receiving treatment in an emergency or using the damn bathroom. The term “clocked” for getting seen as trans comes from getting clocked or punched out.

My life will never be the same as a trans woman. Not only for the normal limitations that are now mine as a woman. The worries of being seen as weak and a possible target for sexual assault, and easier to confront for a mugging, but also a possible target for a hate crime if someone reads me as trans. I will never decide to fly to some states in the US because of possible issues. All this even though my  birth certificate will say the Rachel was born a daughter to my parents.

If you know you’re going to see one of us, please just try to be mindful. Repeat the name and pronouns to yourself a couple of times. I know it’s hard, I forgive you in advance. I love you all.


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