Friday, June 30, 2006

names + feelings

Last week I went to 111 Centre St, to the Manhattan Civil Court, and arrived at the office of the clerk at 9:05am in order to file my paperwork to legally change my name to Elliott John. I stood in line, had my papers stamped, paide my $65 fee, stood in line again, got an index card with a hearing date on it, and was out the door by 9:30am. I'm going back on Thursday, July 6th for my hearing to see what the judge has to say about it all. I petitioned for an exemption from the publication requirement- I don't really want to publish it in a newspaper, mostly (honestly) because of the time/money/hassle factor, but also because of the reasons I listed: I don't want my privacy compromised, particularly because being outwit as a trans person can be a safety issue.

I have to start out by saying that I'm feeling very good about this- I'm extremely pleased with the name I chose. John is an important part of my family history, and my name fits better and better every day that I roll it around in my head. I can't wait to be carrying it around in my wallet.

But I also have to say that when I walked out of the courthouse and took a seat on a bench, I was hit with a weird sad feeling. I say weird because it was unexpected, and somewhat inexplicable. Ask me straight up, I'll tell you I'm happy as a clam! But I sat on that bench and felt little bits of sadness nibbling away at me.

I think it's because in some ways, when I do this, Emma isn't going to exist anymore. I can't really explain it very well. I mean, clearly, I'm not Emma anymore. I'm still me, but I'm not Emma, whoever that was. But Emma is still in my wallet, and still on my social security card, and still on my checks, and still in the employee database at work. When I change my name, Emma isn't really going to exist anymore except in newspaper clippings and the minds of any out-of-touch people.

And. Well. That's kind of sad, maybe.

The feeling reminds me of one that seeped through me a few weekends ago at Brooklyn Pride, when we were in the park enjoying the people watching. I saw an older lesbian couple together, holding hands, pointing out sights of interest to each other, being casually affectionate and all together adorable; I thought to myself, "that could've been me, if I hadn't decided/realized that I'm trans."

and again it was a sense of loss, like something was being given up. The next day, I was still thinking about it, and I had an idle thought that I haven't sent in the rest of Dr. B's fee yet, I've only been on T for 2 months...I'm still in a pretty reversible point in my transition, technically. But with that thought came a swift feeling of revulsion- I was almost nauseous at the thought of stopping transition and trying to embody myself as a lesbian.

So I don't know quite what to do with these feelings- on the one hand, I don't want to buy into the narrative that I'm "killing" my "former girl self." I'm not...I'm not even sure how much I accept the idea of this binary between Emma the Girl and Eli the Boy, because I wasn't ever much of a girl, and I'm certainly not a traditional boy, and I'm still me, anyway. But I can't ignore these sad feelings that have popped up twice now.

But then I feel guilty about having these feelings- I'm so busy being happy about being trans, and excited about my transition. I don't want to cast any doubtful shadows! None! It's like, hey! I'm busy being happy here! Don't bother me with your sadness! Also, I'm scared of sadness, because it feels too close to regret and uncertainty, and the last thing I need or want is anything that threatens this nice feeling of security and solidity I've been cultivating lately.

But Amy (therapist par excellence) told me that feelings of loss don't mean uncertainty about being trans, that they don't invalidate my transcend, and that we'd have plenty of time to talk about it next Thursday before I go off to court.

5 comments:

Julian's Mom said...

You are not Emma, but Emma did exist. I have wondered if you were going to have some sort of ceremony to say goodbye to her? (Is this even something people do, or is it too controversial?)

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