Blog, Sweet Blog

She and him

Posted on: Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mood: Grooby
Music: Anathema-Eternity Part II

I eat a long walk for lunch most days.  Prior to transitioning at work,  I would jog or walk by myself.  Since then, I usually walk with a friend from my division who’s office is across the hall.

I like cultivating the mystery as much as the next girl, so let’s think up a nom de plume for my office friend.

How about Fonzie? No, that’s stupid.  He’s nothing at all like Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli.

Star Boy?  The Captain of Outer Space? Mmmm, no…too Home Movies-y (but I do love me some Home Movies).   Nice try though.

What about Ted or Teddy? Hmmm, short for teddy bear, reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt (our nation’s third-sexiest president), Father Ted, fun to say,…that’s it!

Back to the exposition…My solitary lunchtime adventures always seemed like a sort of exorcism, a time away from my thoughts and demons.  Nowadays, walking is an opportunity to connect with another human, laugh, and talk some jive (wow, I actually used “jive” in an irony-free manner).

So, the other day, we’re walking, talking the jive, monkey-shinin’, and Teddy says something about how a person with my old name had something in common with what we were talking about e.g., “Oldname used to walk alone for lunch all the time.”   I wasn’t sure who Teddy was talking about.  Their are few Oldnames at work and Teddy knows most of them.  After a few seconds, I realized that Teddy had spoken of this person a few times before and that this person was probably me.   It was an odd realization, a little bit like attending your own funeral.  I made a snarky comment about being referred to in the third person then promptly forgot about it until later that night.  Later that night (lol), I revisited my snark and unease.  I decided that I didn’t like being referred to by my old name when I was standing right there.

Look, I realize that a lot of this is uncharted territory and that, sometimes, rules have to be made up and broken as needed.  It’s a weird thing to have to delineate the “before” and “after” in my life and I totally understand if someone messes it up as badly as I do.  But still, when you’re talking to me about what I used to wear, I think you can just say, “You used to dress like homeless clown.”  In fact, unless we’re talking about something, biologically male, so to speak, I think it’s ok to say something like, “Anna used to love boxing chickens.”  I don’t think it’s going to mess anything up.

He wasn’t trying to be mean or insulting, but Teddy justified its use by saying that since I was asking people to accept me as this whole other person, it was only right to clearly separate the “then” from the “hence.”  Teddy also believes that people shouldn’t be allowed to change their names or genders on their birth certificates O_o (much more on that later).  So, it’s not uncommon for us to “disagree.”  I countered with the old, “but I’m still the same person” chestnut.  I kind of feel like the same person (ok, not really), but I’m starting to think that’s a half truth, cop out.  It’s bedtime (and my cat is snoring, adorable!), so I’ll save the pre- vs. post-transition identity theory for another, possibly nonexistent, point in the future.  But, what do you think?  How have you handled this situation?  Did it get up your nose like it did mine? Do you still feel like the same person? 

Yawn.  Let’s put a pretty bow on this…when it comes to me and my feelings, logic is always going to have a tough time.  It’s prolly easier to just shut up and do what I say. 🙂

10 Responses to "She and him"

The only time this ever really happens to me is with my former spouse (okay, she’s technically my current spouse, but we don’t really think of ourselves in those terms). And like you say, it always has a sort of funerary tone to it. But if it helps her, I’ll keep my trap shut.

FWIW, I do feel like a different person. It’s probably more like an overhaul of self than a completely new model, but I can see where people are coming from with that. In fact, in my most recent blog, I talk a little bit about how the “I’m the same person I always was” statement really minimizes a person’s feelings about our transition. If it’s a casual acquaintance or complete stranger, I don’t care so much if they feel minimized, but if it’s a loved one, I think it hurts their process.

BTW, I’m Renee…Christianne’s best friend. Good blog here!

You’re Renee from the Cannibal Ferox blog, right? I’m sorry Renee, but I’m strongly opposed to cannibalism and I cannot support a blog that celebrates cannibalism (and I take a dim view of low budget Italian cinema). I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to march right out of here and…Ohhhhh! Your blog is called Transsexual Ferox. Well, in that case, oh hai Renee! Thanks for stopping by and the compliment!

I’m going to have to read your post because I’m not sure how I feel about that statement. I realize that it’s a way for them to cope with the change and it’s not on par with mis-gendering me, but it still bugs me a little bit (or enough to mention it and write a whole blog about it). I agree, I feel different, but it is like an overhaul. The ideas were always there and the thesis didn’t change, but I’m telling the story in a different way I guess.

This thing only lets you thread two-deep?

So few people get the Cannibal Ferox reference. Not that it’s a great film to reference or anything,I just like how it sounds, and because no one in the universe uses the word ferox. It made more sense, though, when I was utilizing the random giallo generator to come up with titles for my blog posts.

I get why this issue bugs you. It bugs me too. I offer up my thoughts on support and what it takes to be a supportive figure to a person in crisis – drawn entirely from tried and true support techniques for people in crisis, adapted specifically for trans women and their spouses – to demonstrate how really hard it is to to satisfy your needs and theirs’ at the same time. There’s a reason crisis survivor advocates are advised not to have or develop personal connections with the clients they serve. The whole process is really about taking a backseat to the wants and needs of someone else, and it’s hard to make yourself non-extant to that degree when the situation fundamentally revolves around you.

And I make this point largely because I hear trans women talk and talk and talk about how they want to be more supportive to their spouses, or how their spouses need more support, and yet no one really knows what real support looks like. That was never your contention, so it was fairly inappropriate to bring it up in your blog. I guess I just felt like beating my drum a bit.

Actually, I only let people thread two deep (we get so few comments here), but I just increased it. I like how it sounds too, and I have seen it…lol, giallo.

That’s alright, beat your drum. Exactly, I think we’re ultimately in charge of how people interact with us and they should have to look to us for guidance on how to behave. Like I said, it doesn’t bother me as much as some things, but if I’m offered the chance to have a say in how I’m treated, I’ll speak up. I don’t have to work through the problem of the spouse (my cat has done very well with the news), but I can imagine how difficult that must be.

We certainly have at least some control over how people interact with us. I, for one, can’t subscribe to a victim pathology; we’re almost never totally powerless to affect our own lives in a positive manner.

As far as the spouse thing goes, you’re probably blessed in that regard. My situation has turned out remarkably well but if given the chance, I’d go back to the beginning so many years ago and do things differently, for both our sakes.

I’m keeping a semblance of my old name when I change it later this year. Chris I am, and Chris I shall be. Thanks, mom and dad, for giving me a name with a gender-neutral diminutive. I’m also keeping my middle initial, because my older brother has always referred to me as “CJ” and I don’t want to discomfort him if I don’t have to.

O hai Christianne from Scheherezade’s Sister blog! What? I’m trying to give back the advertising love.

I agree, keeping part of your old name will be very helpful to people as they cope with the changes. I don’t think that’s the wrong way to go about it, I just chose another way. I guess I did want there to be a clear distinction but it still seems weird to hear it out loud. It’s funny, but I didn’t consider keeping my middle name at all. I’d never felt any connection to it and my middle name now has some family tradition attached to it. I kind of consider my old name to be like my magic name…like when you know a fairy’s true name, you can control them kind of thing.

My given name wasn’t gender neutral at all, so when choosing my new name, I figured I needed it to be equally non-gender neutral. It took me a while, right C? I’m pretty happy with the end result though.

I think it makes a certain sense to maintain continuity between your old name and new name, if you can and you want to. I did, sort of…my first and middle names still start with the same letters, so at least my initials stayed the same. But that’s the key…I don’t know if it’s easier or harder for others to adjust if they’re still calling you by an old moniker (I rather think it could be harder), but that should be neither here nor there. Naming is personal, and it should be what makes you happiest.

I think that’s a good way to go about it, Renee. My given and middle name aren’t anything at all like the old ones, but I’m happy with them. I talk about it some on the blog, but it took me a couple of weeks to decide on them. It was much harder than I thought it would be.

It was hard! I went through various iterations over a period of a couple years…it’s sort of infamous actually, and a bit of an inside joke between C and I and a few others. In the end, I ended up turning to my parents, and my spouse even chimed in a bit, so I kind of feel like I have still have given names…just given to me a bit later in life. For whatever reason, I think that’s what I needed.

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