Eleditor’s note: Elephant is a diverse community of sixteen million readers and hundreds of writers (you can write too!). We are reader-created. Many blogs here are experience, opinion, and not fact or The One Right Point of View. We welcome all points of view, especially when offered with more sources and less invective, more frankness and less PR. Share your own take here.
This article was written in the spirit of levity and with a touch of humour. In no way was it the author’s intent to demean or trivialize what it means to be transgender. The article was written with the intent of serving as a reference point, to outline a commonality between us: that it is normal and human to want a different identity—if even for a day or a year. Taking on such a dramatic change for a lifetime, however, takes a huge amount of energy and courage.
Elephant has blogged up at least 10 posts on Caitlyn’s journey, which we celebrate. That said, we’re an open big tent and welcome dialogue and humor, even if it’s “wrong.” Please dialogue respectfully, and we can all come out winners. ~ ed.
I think my unrest has finally settled.
I get it.
The whole Caitlyn Jenner thing has me a little excited—even envious—for this reason:
Caitlyn got to pick a brand spanking new name.
I’ve always had a beef with my too-short name: Dawn. Ugh. This is the kind of name people never hear the first time. It always bears repeating, and why? Because it comes out like a wad of cotton with no edges.
I am often asked to repeat it. Can you really mispronounce it? Or is it just so short, it flies by the ear too fast to be heard? Use my name next time you go to Starbucks, you’ll see what I mean (and by the way, thanks for buying me a coffee).
Now, I still don’t know what name I would chose for myself if I had the chance.
Dawn. Yeah yeah, sunrise, beauty, blah blah.
The fact is—in my mind—Dawn is not a “babe” name.
I’ve always wanted a babe name.
The closest thing I ever got to hand-selecting a moniker was when I had the good fortune of picking a name for French class. I picked Antoinette. It means priceless one. I was totally going for the super-prissy, priceless, untouchable bitch name because that’s pretty much the farthest thing from the real, messy, sunny me.
And who doesn’t want to play at being the farthest thing from what they actually are (at least until they grow up)?
Yes, I have a little name envy.
Caitlyn is a babe name. Not only did she get to pick a name, she got to pick the spelling! Down to the damn letter! I look at my own sparsely lettered title. Do you know what? You can’t really extend it into anything much more interesting. You might be able to throw an “a” on the end and act like that works some kind of magic, but it doesn’t. It’s just Dawn with an “uh” on the end, like a pause when you are trying to find a word. It’s also a far cry from the uber-feminine Donna, which is way more babe-ish, visibly more curvaceous. If a name could have thick false eyelash fringe, Donna surely would. And gogo boots to boot.
So this is all in the spirit of fun and poking fun of my own triviality. But for the trans community, changing one’s name is not the least of the challenges that they have to face on a daily basis.
Changing your name just for the hell of it seems to imply that the one you’ve been given isn’t good enough, for whatever reason. It may suggest some sort of discontent that we would think a truly confident person should be able rise above.
On the flip side it also suggests a level of boldness and strength that most of us don’t (need to) have.
The inability to exist under a name—or any other title that doesn’t truly define us—is not a sign of weakness.
Breaking free from the chains of the wrong name (or gender) takes some pretty hefty me-muscles, which I am only just starting to build on my own timid mental frame.
I’m working on it.
I’m working on discovering and redefining who I am, unfettered and fearlessly investing myself in the parts of me that have been dormant for a long time. I am nurturing my inner bitch, to be honest.
I wonder what name she’ll pick once she’s fully released from the vortex of my soul?
Changing your name (and your everything) takes balls (metaphorical ones of course), but it’s one of those things you can’t change without a boat-load of trouble. Lots of correcting the incorrect. Lots of reminding. Lots of staking your claim.
Many of us don’t have the time or energy to go through this—let alone the guts.
So Caitlyn has a new name to go with her new identity—bonus!
Those of us who haven’t undergone this kind of massive overhaul can find a tremendous amount of freedom in knowing that we don’t have to make those kinds of changes to be, well, changed.
When we aren’t happy with our own identities, we should remember the lengths to which transgender people have to go through in order to just be themselves.
All we have to do is dig down deep, see the good stuff that’s hiding and breathe a little life into it. Breathe a lot of life into it, see what blooms. See who you become.
Heck, I might just change my name after all.
*Author’s note: I entitled my article “My Problem with Caitlyn Jenner” because I wanted people to see that my “problem” was pretty much non-existent. I accept that a) It’s really none of my business and b) not my place to make any sort of judgement. I thought it would be a really nice switch for the reader to prepare themselves for yet another rant on the topic, to find only a (hopefully at least marginally delightful) examination of some of the changes we all make or want to make. I feel that a lot of what the public eye scrutinizes is really more of a personal matter that we have no business sticking our noses in. My article was also a means to bring willing readers into a more neutral place, because maybe identifying with a change of name, they might come just slightly closer to understanding why another human would feel the need to change other things about themselves. We all bear labels and titles. Everyone should identify with that. Writing this article was an attempt to “bridge a gap,” so to speak.
Author: Dawn Raymond
Apprentice Editor: Celeste Ferrier/ Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Mike Mozart at Flickr
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