It's All in a Name

Connie brought up an interesting point about responding, or not, to one's old "dead name."

"Your slight digression made me want to know more. At that time, you had two names. Today, you have a different one. How, then, do you respond, should someone call you by any one of them? I imagine that you would react differently, depending on which one was used. My dead name has become almost incognizant to me after adopting my new name many years ago.

If I hear someone in a crowded place say, "Connie," I will likely turn my head in recognition these days, but I no longer do that when my dead name is heard. Well, not until just a couple weeks ago, anyway. I was grocery shopping, and I heard a woman say, in a stern voice, "(Dead name), stop doing that!" I turned around to see a small boy holding a can of something from the bottom shelf, and Mom was standing right over him with a waving finger. It doesn't take a psychologist to tell me why I reacted to the sound of an irritated mother shouting (Dead name), but I can only laugh now about such a thing. 

Among many other things I did, as a kid, that would irritate my mother was my natural walk; placing most of my weight on the balls of my feet, rather than using a firm step on my heels. I did learn to affect a more-masculine walk, but my mother would always let me know when I had "regressed" to my natural one. Later, as an adult, I started shaping my eyebrows as much as I thought I could get away with, and every time mother saw me, she would say the same thing she said to me regarding my walk: (Dead name), stop doing that! Hmm, maybe I have Cowboy Nightmares and Cowgirl Dreams. :-)"

Sometimes I think I more than burnt out the name situation. Like so many other cross dressers and early transgender women, I chose the name of the cis women of the period I was in whom I admired the most. For example, my earliest feminine name was Karen. Because I used to sit close to a cis girl named Karen in middle school. Back in those days, I didn't understand why my crushes weren't really sexual ones but more out of admiration. I wanted so bad to be them.

Over the years, I have been a Darcy, a Roxy a Cyrsti (of course) and finally a Jessie which is my legal name now. Ironically, Cyrsti's Condo was so established by the time I chose my legal name, I decided to leave it alone. Jessie is actually a family name. 

As far as responding to my dead (male) name, I still catch myself turning around on the very rare occasions I hear it. I am more likely to fight responding when someone uses the "Sir" word when a stranger is using it with another person. Fortunately. more times than not they are directly not referring to me anyhow. 

Now on to my Mom:

My mother and I were much alike and thus never agreed on anything.  I was so focused on living a lie as a guy, I don't think walking was ever an issue. On the other hand, I con't imagine she never noticed my forays into her clothes and makeup. Either I covered it up better than I thought, or she ignored my cross dressing urges thinking it was a faze. 

When I came out to her when I was discharged from the Army as a transvestite, she offered to send me to electrode shock therapy. I told her she wasn't going to plug me into a wall socket and the subject was never brought up again. 

I guess I got the final revenge because I chose her name as my middle name.

Looking back on it now, I hope she would have considered it a honor of sorts. You see, it's all in a name.


  1. After rereading my question here, I realize that I asked the wrong one, but you did answer it, anyway. Of course, someone who knew us before as the man who went by our dead names, should they dead name us (or misgender us) face to face, we would have a negative reaction. But, in a group or crowd, whether someone is trying to get my attention or that of another who has my dead name, I am no longer programmed to immediately recognize it and respond.

    I have a brother-in-law who has had a tough time accepting my transition, and he's also one of those people who seem to have no filter regarding what they say out loud. He says inappropriate things to, and about, just about anybody, so I have chosen to just not respond at all when he dead names me. It's not worth the trouble or the anguish. I'll admit to having gone into "Taxi Driver" mode a couple of times, though; "You talkin' to me?" The last time we met, at a family gathering, he gave me an overpowering grip with his handshake and said, "How ya doin', buddy?" I responded, while holding my hand to show the obvious discomfort he had caused, "Oh, I bet you say that to all the girls." Even a lady can resort to sarcasm when she had to!

    1. This particular B-I-L is one of those people who lack social and self awareness. I refuse to let people like that bother me, and I know that my emotional maturity is so much greater than the insecurities of such people. They can only feel worthy by trying to make others appear to be "less than." Knowing that a person like that cannot be changed is the first thing that must be realized, and the second thing is that they can't change me, either - not unless I allow them to do so, that is. Yes, he's a bastard, which is his problem. If he can't accept me for whom I am, that's just another problem he has. He's not worth the trouble for me to allow his problems to also be mine.


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