6.14.2010

Hello, my name is (now) Jack

Before I actually admitted to everyone that I was planning on transitioning I sort of tested out the waters in the form of an art project. I created an art installation based on a government office that investigates the unnatural deaths of animals. To head up the office I invented an alter ego. He is a tall  guy from Faro, Yukon who took biological sciences and wildlife management at the Yukon University.

He was actually pretty well received. I had a few people figure out what was really going on but for the most part no one was really that concerned with him. He is a pretty shy guy but he made friends easily enough that I felt comfortable taking the next step.

Once I had decided to transition I had to decide was what I was going to call myself. It took me a long time to decide on a new name. I tried on many many names, searched through baby name websites and even thought up some names that weren't really even proper names. I had considered keeping the name I used for my alter ego but it wasn't really me. I had created so much background for him that he had become a real guy in his own right and I couldn't figure out how I could merge who he was in my mind with who I wanted to be.

I wanted to find a strong comfortable name that wasn't going to be hard to spell or easily mocked. I wanted to feel comfortable in my new name and when I looked in the mirror I wanted my name to feel familiar. I did a lot of research and finally chose Jack. It's a strong and quiet name but is common. But most importantly when I look in the mirror I feel like a Jack, it fits comfortably like a favourite pair of old blue jeans.

I changed my name at school right before Christmas and so before I went back for my final semester in January I sent an e-mail to all my instructors who already new me and explained the situation. I had one professor that didn't know me and that was the class that made me the most nervous. Almost everyone in the class knew me so this was quite a public coming out for me. A few heads whipped around and stared when she called out Jack and when it came time to discuss my work I intentionally avoided talking about being transgendered and what my relationship was with the coyote. I was really nervous, my hands were sweating and my mouth went dry and I didn't like that at all. I felt my heart pounding and I was worried about being called out and heckled but it didn't happen.

My first time in public as Jack was terrifying and awkward and I felt shy which is not usually how I feel. I felt my identity was under scrutiny and I was suddenly even more self conscious and unsure of myself. I worried about being accepted by acquaintances and I became hyper aware of my body, my voice, mannerisms,  my breasts giving me away, and I wished I had my packer but then worried that it would become a focus of what I am not and what I don't really have.

I was really nervous and edgy when I first began living as Jack but every day I grow more confident in my changing skin. While there are still awkward moments, I know that as testosterone begins to transform me I will feel less like people are second-guessing themselves when they meet me. One day soon there will not appear to be any discrepancy between the man standing in front of you and his name: he'll just be that guy Jack.

1 comment:

(s)heslamsonthebrakes said...

I changed my name right before September, and my 3 or 4th year of university (geeez...i already can't remember). I emailed one professor because my campus login was under Sarah Grove, and that was what he had my class forum registered under. He replied that it wouldn't pose a problem because I was Cole, and he would record my work as such, lol. I then talked to all of my Women's Studies profs and, given the nature of that small department, everybody already knew and was happy for me. In my class with my mostest-favoritest philosophy prof, I waited until after class and told him that the Sarah on the register was me, but I go by Cole now. He just looked at me, blinked, and said "okay!"

But, by far, the most unnerving experience was in Spanish class. It was my first class in Spanish, so I didn't know anyone! The prof took attendance (as she would continue to do every day of class :S)and when she called Sarah Grove, I just sat there and looked around nervously. I fretted for the rest of the class about how to tell this stranger, oi. She didn't understand at first, I suppose she couldn't figure out why this teenage boy would be going on about someone who didn't even show up to class, lol. But in the end, she was like "oooooooh," and everything was fine after that! (aside from my own pronoun/conjugating troubles, LOL).

What amazes me about your stories is your openness with everyone! and you are SO right, by talking to them, you are giving them the chance to show how much they care about you. That takes courage! from everyone!

There is much more to say here about "coming out," but we should save some for July ;)