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.