Saturday, January 9, 2010

Name-from a family perspective

As this is my “maiden voyage” here on this blog I feel it necessary to give a little bit of background information.

I don’t remember specifically how it came about, but Cynthia came out to me as transgendered prior to us even starting to date. She did however insist that she had “put all that behind her, and had no need to transition.” (as I’ve become part of the trans community I’ve learned that this type of talk is not at all uncommon.) Over the years it became obvious that that just wasn’t the truth. I started to prepare myself for what I saw as the inevitable transition of my mate. It was more about “when” not “if”. I expected it around the early 50’s, though here we are with her in her early 40’s. I’m bisexual so my story is unique and not all that common. (seems to me) I didn’t feel lied to particularly, as I knew she was trans from the get go. I’m not straight so the issue of sexuality isn’t really one we deal with. Please keep these things in mind when reading my story. I do not speak for all spouses of trans mates! That’s for sure. With that out of the way…onto my thoughts for today.

Cynthia came to me in September very upset. Tears streaming down her face we talked about what was wrong. It was the “gender issues” again. It was evening, so we went to bed and slept on it. The next morning it hadn’t disappeared or lessened as it might “normally”. I asked her, “do you need to transition?” and bottom lip trembling she responded,


We started looking into the process and the first thing that came to my mind was,

“Well now what do I call you?”

To use her masculine name felt un-accepting to me, calling her “he/him” seemed like a lie and became increasingly uncomfortable. So we sat down and discussed it. She’d already picked out a name but wasn’t solid on it at that point. I tried to help her by bringing names to her that I thought she might like. She shot them all down. She later made it clear she really didn’t desire any help and she’d made her choice. Cynthia Patricia Lee. (as you may have seen in a previous entry written by her)

When she told me that she didn’t desire help in choosing a name I felt very shot down. Left out. Nearly panicky! We’d almost always done everything together. Truth be told..I didn’t like the name Cynthia. It just didn’t feel right to me.

I think the choosing of your own name is rather unnatural. We get our birth name from our parents. Any nickname we might have is normally bestowed upon us by friends or peers. Naming yourself is just a rare thing.

I now understand that this is one of the few gifts and benefits that a trans person has. They get to choose just WHO they want to be. They choose what someone else will call them. There’s power in that! No doubt.

In being left out of the process I believe it hindered my ability to use my mate’s chosen name. The first person to use it in our inner circle was actually Cynthia’s brother. I felt so terrible that I was struggling with something so small as a name. What is a name anyway? My mate is the same person regardless what we call her. I just felt so stuck with it though.

We’ve had many a discussion on the topic of names and now as I look over the meaning; it really is a perfect fit. I don’t think she could have chosen better. I’ve since been able to accept it, use it regularly and it’s become second nature.

If I might be so bold to offer some advice to other trans folk who have mates (or children!) let them be part of your naming process. Invite them into this process. You may not like what they offer, but trust me if a consensus can be reached it will be far easier for all involved.