This time, no, because this legal name is the name I originally wanted when I finally came to realize I was a trans man.
I get it—for many who want to transition, they want a whole new start, or something that frees them from their dead name and the life it brought them. Some want to honor their heritage. Some see a hero somewhere, and claim the name for themselves as a connection. Some continue to go by a nickname of their dead name, because it’s unisex, or often associated with their gender identity. I went the route of just going with the “opposite” (masculine, in my case) form of my dead name. A traditional, formal name with a variety of traditional and modern nicknames, steeped in history and meaning. One with heathen (as opposed to Christian) origins, yet a simple meaning.
Many of my friends and former coworkers still call me “Cai”. You know what? That’s fine—it’s a former alias, not my dead name. Unless I really don’t like someone, then I’ll fuck with them and say the truth, it’s not my name, I don’t have to answer, and further botherings will be handled as a form of harassment under gender identity law.
Eight months on, still seeing my name a “Charles” on (almost) everything still enthralls, if not causes gender euphoria much of the time; seeing reminds me of how hard I’ve worked and sacrificed to get to where I am today. Not just seeing my name on something like my Google or iCloud accounts that allow me to easily go by anything, but also on those big things that count: on mail and packages, my work badge and uniform, my bank cards and photo ID, my health insurance card. Being addressed legally at work and in social situations that require a “formal” or “legal” name, like at government appointments. Having this blog in my name (as well as my former and dead names forwarding here), showing my real name, as opposed to just my nickname, further solidifies the reality that is living my name being legal, being real, being able to be the real, authentic me.
I had the chance to go with any name I wanted; other personal names I liked were “Patrick”, “Anthony”, even “Michael” (I grew up with family who are Catholic on one side, so Catholic names endeared me). I even thought, came very close to even using, “John Charles” as a double first name, to honor both my Southern heritage and maternal family custom of naming each first-born as “John” or “Janet”/”Joan”. I even thought of changing my surname (family name) to the Irish “Coffey” to reflect my love of coffee, despite being partially Irish, for the sheer hell of it.
Sticking with the masculine form of my dead name just … felt more natural. I am still the same person, just being my real, authentic self now.
I understand I’m in a position others can only dream of. I understand I don’t always have to fight the good fight all the time, and living post-op affords me things others can’t. I don’t have to worry about the government denying me my right to live as a man. I live in a state where my healthcare needs can’t be denied, nor can a doctor refuse care for being transphobic. I can date and marry a girl being a man, if marriage equality is ever denied again.
In my euphoria and life post-op, in a state that’s often at or near the forefront of (trans)gender equality, I’m not forgetting the shit others within our community still have to deal with. I’m just allowed to enjoy my own victories from time to time.