I’ve talked before about using Voldemort as a tongue-in-cheek stand-in for my old name, and how hearing my old name has an effect on me. Well, this past week it came up a few times, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how to handle it.
First, while teaching my high school class, they were coming up with improvised stories. I always love watching kids do this, particularly more advanced classes, because the things they come up with are inevitably ridiculous but often very engaging and enjoyable to watch. On this past Saturday, someone must have had my old name on their mind because it was used in two stories for the main character’s name.
I, of course, immediately began questioning myself: was one of the kids making fun of me? How would they even know? What were they giggling about? How self-conscious did I need to be? If I said something along the lines of, “Wow, that names popular today,” would they know why I said it?
I’ve been thinking about that idea since then, and of the power of names. And I realized that I don’t want people saying my old name. A coworker of mine, who met me after I was living full-time as Rebecca, knows my old name because she gets the office mail and random catalogs and things occasionally arrive in my old name. I was telling a story to a friend that needed to use my old name, and felt uncomfortable when I got to that point in the story.
I’m starting to feel a bit claustrophobic in my current job, where I’ve been since before I transitioned. And in a building that I’ve been coming to for classes and to teach and work since I was nine. In the city where I grew up. Surrounded by people who knew me before I transitioned.
I also don’t want to totally cut myself off from pre-transition life, from the friends and family and memories. But I’m floundering right now, having a hard time keeping my head above water, and I’m wondering how much my surroundings have to do with it.
Recently, I realized that I’m OK with nicknames in a way that I never was with my old name. That is, I’m OK with Becca, Becks, Rebsie (don’t ask), whatever. (Although I’m not OK with Becky.) But I was never really comfortable with variations or riffs on my old name.
It reminds me of my comfort with (and even pleasure from) shopping for clothing since transitioning. It makes sense – since I’m happier with my body and my appearance, of course I’d be more willing to try on clothing – but was nevertheless unexpected.
One of my roommates and I went bowling Saturday night (I did not great, but not horrible – bowled a 94 and an 87) and we had sort of a funny conversation.
We were talking about bowling names, because we’ve both used the same ones for years. But I haven’t gone bowling since changing my name, and my old bowling name was based on my (male) name.
My roommate said, “Well, you can use the same bowling name. But I guess it was based on your old name. And now that your name isn’t…that that isn’t your name, we could try to come up with something new, based on Rebecca.”
I said, laughingly, “It’s not Voldemort – you can say my old name!”
I’ve been thinking about that idea since then, though, because there is an aspect of “He who shall not be named”-ness about it. I’ve entirely avoided using my old name on this blog. I only rarely use it when talking about my past, even with friends or coworkers. And it definitely bugs the hell out of me when I get mail addressed to…my old name.
I just hope that getting rid of my old name won’t require five hundred in-need-of-editing pages containing meandering, lost-in-the-forest whining and in-fighting…
Here’s the piece I presented earlier tonight. I’m still figuring out the best way to edit video on the Mac, so I may play around and re-upload a different version sometime tomorrow as I try to tweak settings to get a better-quality video clip. (Basically, it’s a question of which settings to use where while converting/exporting video. There are a lot of options, so I’m trying to determine what’s a reasonable set to use.)
I just got back from the Daley Center, where I filed my name change paperwork. This sets the ball rolling for a hearing with a judge in July. He’ll (hopefully) say, “Sounds good!” and, at that point, my name will legally be changed. He’ll also give me the magical sheet of paper that I can use to update all my other documents – drivers license, birth certificate, bank account, insurance, etc, etc, etc.
The process was actually pretty helpful, and was made much easier by the use of Illinois Legal Aid’s website. They have a fancy-shmancy setup where you can enter your info and it’ll spit out the filled-out documents to take to the county clerk. The whole process took about an hour, and much of that was waiting in line or going from office to office.
The only shitty thing was they denied my request to waive the filing fees. Which brings me to the previously mentioned five hundred dollars: about three-fifty for the filing itself and another one-fifty for the legally-required publication notifying the world at large (well, anyone who reads the Illinois Law Journal) of my intent to change my name. There’ll also be additional (much smaller) costs to receive a new birth certificate, drivers license, etc, etc.
Sorry I haven’t posted for a few days. I’ve been really down, and still feeling like I’m in a rut. I’ve been thinking about when I last felt so consistently shitty, and finally realized it was pre-transition. That got me thinking about what I have left ‘to do,’ which was part of where the previous post (about surgery) came from. The other thing that’s been on my mind is legally changing my name.
I changed my name on Facebook a while back from J to R. I stressed about it at the time, but the only responses I’ve gotten have been positive, and I haven’t gotten a ton of responses to begin with. But, although I have an ‘alias’ email address which sends as R, my primary email address still sends as J.
Now – as I’m moving toward transitioning at work, have both of my parents calling me R (although my dad does it somewhat awkwardly, that’s OK for now), and have all of my friends calling me R – I’m wondering if I’m ready to take that ultimate plunge.
Am I ready to change the name which shows up in people’s inboxes for my primary email address?
This also plays into my name change thoughts. I’m still thinking of changing my name to JR (a different J…) and going by R, my new middle name. Two reasons for this are A) I like the way it sounds, but like thinking of myself as R more, and B) I don’t want to have to change my email address from jlastname@, particularly because rlastname@ is, in my mind, my dad’s email address.
Yes, I’m actually planning my name change in part on how it will affect my email.
One of the people working on it recently got in touch with me, after being given my name by a friend, and asked if I’d like to be involved in the planning process. I emailed her back saying, basically, “Maybe – what would you need from me and what woudl I need to give you?” But, being on auto-pilot, I signed the email J rather than R.
So she emailed me back giving me some more information and asking which name I prefer to go by – she addressed me in the first email as R. And now I feel like a jackass because I have to figure out a way to say, “Oh. I guess I forgot my name there for a minute.”
I’ve been thinking about transitioning at work. I’m out to everyone where I work, but the situation is made slightly more complicated because I work full time in one office which is down the hall from the office running the organization where I teach part time, both of which are in a building filled with other offices of people I’m on a first-name basis with.
I’ve been talking with the teacher I’m assisting at the Workshop, SB, about coming out to our high school class, which we both think will be smooth because they’re pretty awesome. As part of that process, I talked with the artistic director of the Workshop for a while today, JG, and she basically said, “We support you 100%, so lets figure out the best/smoothest way to do this.”