What’s in a name?
Fifteen years ago when we found out we were expecting, my hubby and I immediately dug out the Baby Name book. For months as our child grew in my belly we perused the different names. We would rehearse them and investigate their meaning. We were dedicated to finding a name that would fit the unknown personality of our child. Finally we decided on a first and middle name that we would also use as a nickname. We decided on JJ.
When JJ Came Out to us as Transgender, I took comfort knowing that we had picked what I would consider a gender neutral name.
“Maybe this was meant to be.”
FINALLY, we had done something right. Finally, I recognized a sign.
But……wait for it…..
As many Transgender people do, my son had already picked his new name and it was not JJ. His new first name was chosen because he liked it and his friends really liked it too.
Ugh…was that a knife I just felt in my back?
The memory of our nine months of endless name searching was instantly rendered futile. Does none of this matter to our child?
What’s in a name….Nothing?
I never EVER considered I would have to use a different name for my child. I never EVER considered I would have to use new pronouns.
JJ was my safe word.
I struggled every day to choke out sentences that would not offend our child. I found myself rehearsing every aspect of my conversations around the nickname JJ. We were using those two capital letters like a common profanity.
“Today JJ got an A in math and then JJ got to show art at school. I’m so proud of JJ.” I could see my denial crushing my child.
Next, I started using both pronouns together, thinking that would be better. Telling myself it was progress.
“Maybe it was.”
“Today JJ got and A in math and then she/he was able to show her/his art at school.”
Later, I found myself not wanting to talk at all. I was avoiding pronouns. I was avoiding the name change. My communication skills were failing me.
I was aware that using the proper pronoun and name was vital for my child’s mental health yet, I could not follow through. I was stuck.
What’s in a name….Everything?
Every memory I had was of our “girlies.” I had heard the famous phrase “it’s a girl” four beautiful times in my life. Every kiss goodnight and every good morning cheer had been to our girlies. Every road trip adventure began with one singe question, posed boisterously by my husband.
Where are we going girlies?
No matter where our road trip destination….our backseat girlies always had the same reply.
To the mountains!
I was terrified. If I start using a different name, if I accept a son, our daughter will be lost forever. I was not going to let those memories get pushed into storage like the junk from my child’s room.
I was placing my child into a status. I was like society, separating the men from women and the rich from the poor, the gay from the straight. In my mind I had a child of the past and a child of the future. Status Transgender….I still didn’t quite get it.
What I did get was very confused.
“All?…….What the Hell?”
“I was scared.”
As usual I turned to my family for advice. How do I move forward? I’ve always had my girlies….I’ve never had boys. How do I raise a boy?
“What do I do?”
My beautiful sister-in-law who has raised two fine sons of her own posed one simple question to me. That one question changed my life forever, again.
She asked. “Why would you do anything different?”
Why would I do anything different?
I was haunted by these words and while I followed my thoughts I was led down another path to discovery and acceptance.
There is no daughter of the past and son of the future. They are one and the same. Believe it or not….
They are All!
My child of the past and my child of the future had morphed into one. I could now visualize my child not as he was announced to the world, but as he was meant to be.
Standing before me was the same beautiful, loving, rammy, lippy, annoying, funny, brilliant, messy and creative soul that I had nurtured.
“Our daughter was not lost.”
We never had a daughter to begin with, I just thought we did. I’ve had it wrong this whole time. We have all had it wrong.
“Finally I get it!”
“There’s that opera singing again!”
I could finally let go of the idea of our youngest daughter without feeling a loss.
You can’t lose something you never really had.
After a quick family meeting we picked an official day for our transition. Together we pledged to give our very best effort to use our child’s new name and the proper pronouns. The day came and…..
It was easy!
It has been a year since our journey to transition began and recently our son decided on his middle name. Our son chose his father’s name to be his new middle name. Our son chose to honour our nine months of planning by keeping his nickname, JJ intact.
Using his own insight, our son has shown us consideration and respect.
That wasn’t a knife in my back after all
“It was only pain from my broken heart.”
Like the pain of childbirth is instantly diminished by the newborn touch, I can no longer remember the pain from that imaginary knife.
I am amazed at this gift life has given us. Each chapter of my journey begins in my thoughts. I am on a long, dusty and seemingly endless road. I follow the path. Occassionally I reach out and scratch an arrow in the dust to keep myself heading in the right direction.
As each chapter in my book comes to a close, somehow that seeminly impossible path meets it’s destiny and another full circle is complete.
What’s in a name?
Absolutely nothing and absolutely everything!
I have a son. His name is Josh.