It’s an interesting question to ask. As Juliet rightly points out, our names do not truly define us as people. Names, and really languages in general, are at their most basic level nothing more than arrangements of otherwise distinct sounds that are arbitrarily agreed upon as having meaning by the people in a particular culture of speakers and listeners. And while this is essentially true when it comes to mere denotations, the same cannot be said for connotations. After thousands of years of using languages of various characters, humans have come to regard words as powerful things, often forming the underlying nature of philosophy and religious beliefs.
With respects to Juliet, this is especially the case when it comes to names. We tend to take our names very seriously, as if they are a part of our selves just as much as any physical body part, and the misuse of our names is tantamount to actual injury. Our names are among the first things we are ever actually certain about when it comes to our sense of identity, and as such they tend to form the substructures that under-gird the entirety of our individual self-conceptions. They are the first piece of information required in introductions and the last thing required, in signature form, on legal documents. Names are incredibly important.
All of this, of course, calls into question my decision to blog pseudonymously, but i’ve already covered that ground in earlier entries, and those readers who do know me in person are well aware of the issues at hand that led to that particular decision on my part. That really isn’t the issue i want to discuss with this particular entry, anyway. What i want to talk about is how to deal with my real name now that i am working through this personal journey of gender fluidity… and i’m going to do it all without revealing my real name in this entry. (Because I’m magical like that!)
So, just to catch up on ground already covered elsewhere, i am now pretty much officially identifying as gender fluid, because i honestly do feel like i move back and forth along the gender continuum, often settling somewhere around the middle. Since that motion really does feel very fluid and fluctuates relatively often, gender fluid feels like the best fit. This is an interesting situation, though, because my new found non-binary-ness doesn’t fit my real name at all, but it’s also not a situation where changing my name outright to something on the other side of the continuum would be appropriate either.
The original thought i had when i first began this journey was that i would keep my real name for when i was feeling more male and use a different female name for when i was feeling more female. My original thought was that this other name would be Simone. Yes, it’s the female version of the name i blog under, but it’s more than that. i’m not sure exactly what the reason is, but i’ve always been drawn to the name Simon. It’s been an alter ego name i’ve used for years. It was the name of my first Play by E-mail RPG character, and I’ve been using it as my scene name in the BDSM community since my first halting steps into that lifestyle as well. For this reason, Simone seems a somewhat appropriate choice of name for my female side…
…except it doesn’t feel quite right.
i don’t know what it is, but i can’t quite picture myself as a Simone. i’ve tried, but there’s just something… off… about it. It feels… false somehow… almost like putting on a mask, i guess. Perhaps “Simon” has become such a part of me that simply feminizing that name is not the right choice.
So what is the solution? There isn’t really a feminine version of my real name, and even if there was, i think i’ve moved away philosophically from the idea of switching back and forth between two names depending on which side of the continuum felt stronger. It sort of has the effect of denying the middle ground that i find myself occupying so often. Instead, i think some sort of gender-neutral name might be for the best.
Unfortunately, this sort of leaves me at square one. i don’t know what name fits anymore. i’ll still use simon–if nothing else, it’s still my scene name and part of my sense of identity with BDSM friends and acquaintances–but not as a primary name. i’ve looked at a couple of lists of gender neutral names, and i haven’t really come to any conclusions yet. Truth be told, naming characters is one of the hardest things for me to do as a writer; the name has to fit the character… and my name has to fit me. (Suggestions are welcome, on this front.)
And truthfully all of this really is sort of a moot point, when you think about it. It’s not like i’m going to be publicly or legally changing my name any time soon. My job and my career keep me well ensconced in my personal closet, and there’s no sign that i’ll be able to start poking my head out of it in anything approaching the near future. So legally and professionally, i’ll still pretty much always be my “real” name. But on the other hand, i have friends, both in the Trans* community and outside of it, to whom i am out about all of these things, and it would be kind of nice to have something that better fits me and my fluctuating nature that they could use in safe environments.
i don’t know… Maybe that’s a silly and impractical idea. Still, it might be nice to figure something out.