It has been a while since I did a ‘thinky’ blog post (and excuse me for using that word but it’s been a long and lazzzy weekend, first one I can remember, and I’m chilled and not so much of a grammer-fascist as I normally try to be). I was going to do a fluffy pink post drooling and squeeing over a certain dress a very good friend bought for me, but that one can wait as, gasp, I had a request for a blog post.
Firstly, anyone can ask me for a blog post on any topic they like; I really like the challenge of a topic and my brain is pretty empty after the x years I’ve been writing this and secondly i was kinda thinking of writing a blog post about just this topic when a very good friend of mine challenged me to write it.
The impetus to write a post on names and identity came from a lovely comment someone sent me; they had started at the very beginning of the blog and asked, candidly, why my attitude towards ‘Sarah’ had changed so radically, in the way I refer to her/me. At the start of the blog it was very much third person; referring to her as a separate entity with a very strong division between the personalities. As the years went by the her became me, and the blog posts shifted to a perspective of first person.
So the question my friend asked me was quite direct and, initially, quite a simple one. “why, If you chose to live as a woman, it would not be under the name of Sarah but Julia”.
It got me thinking because she is dead right; if I did choose to live or transition to a woman, I would definitely not use the name Sarah. It’s not because I dislike Sarah (it’s me now so that would be appalling), it’s something deeper. But to explain why I need to go back in time a bit.
Confession time; I hate my name in real life. I don’t tell people that, but it’s a naff name, very popular in the 70’s and there’s a funny/not funny story about it. My name is Ian. I was going to be a Scott or a Nicola depending on the sex (I like Nicola but more on that later) but as well as being born with a messed up set of sexual characteristics I also had one of those bloody awful births you hear about. Back then (and yeah, I do feel ancient describing this) if your mother had problems during child birth rather than going for a C section early they let the baby fight in the birth canal and then yank them out with effectively a pair of metal clamps. I had that ‘fun’ experience and they were pretty sure I was brain damaged by the experience.
On top of being told their child was potentially inter-sexed my parents were warned that I would more than likely have severe learning difficulties; basically my head was squeezed almost to a point during the pulling process.
So out when Scott (and obviously Nicola) and in came a three letter name I could possibly spell. Plus no middle name as it would confuse my low IQ’d mind. The irony is delicious; my IQ measured 176 when tested at the age of nine so either the brain rewired or there’s a lot of give in that chunk of cauliflower when you’re young and full of stem cells.
Anyway, the point is I don’t like the name I was given. I miss not having a middle-name although the ‘parents gave me a name I could probably spell’ is always an amusing pub tale (if I ignore the horrified looks people with empathy give me when I give that story)’.
When I started dressing names weren’t on the agenda; I dressed from a very young age for the effect and feeling it gave me, which is another of those interesting things that point to this compulsion being more than just a sexual fetish, as I was dressing from the age of six only and didn’t get any sexual feelings until twelve or so.
After the confused period when I was deciding whether or not I was a crossdresser or not I started to call myself a woman’s name while dressing. And that name was a derivation of my male name – I went for Diane, partly because my own name was in there and partly because I had a huge thing for the fashions of the late Princess Diana.
I’ll come back to that in a bit as it’s a very important point; the use of feminised version (to a point) of my own name really says something to me about the mindset.
After Diane I played with the name ‘Julie’ for a bit. I’ve always thought of Julie as a particularly feminine name and I was going for as femm as I could. I switched to Debbie for a bit (my Flickr account which has been going for a long time is actually Debbie Lewis-Smith (no idea why I went for double-barrelled other than it sounded posh). Eventually I switched to Sarah, only about four or so years ago.
I’ve blogged about it before but the main reasons for Sarah were a: my first proper girlfriend, when I was around 11 years old, was called Sarah and b: it’s an old name, which ties in nicely with the whole retro feel I have been trying to adopt for a while.
So that’s the history. And now to answer, or at least try, the question from my dear friend.
*If* I chose to go full time, or to be more, well, serious about adopting a female role I absolutely wouldn’t use the name Sarah. And the reason is quite simple; Sarah has been a transition name. What I mean by that is that Sarah has too much baggage for me; I experimented with a lot of looks, some frankly erotic/sexual stuff as well, and Sarah feels like a bridge between the drab me and the feminine me. If I chose to go down the route of discarding the drab me, and believe me I’ve thought about it a lot lately, I would want a clean break and a clean start; no history, no baggage, nothing.
The concept of a name is hugely important. You get given one when you don’t have a choice, and most people are fine with going with that, but for us people who actively don’t like either the person we are or the body state we were dealt, the name is an anchor to a state we don’t like. As I said, I hate my name for a number of reasons; so much I’ve adopted a nickname and only really answer to that at work and home.
Your name is you and the ability to choose it is a massive thing that the majority of people don’t get a chance to do. It’s a chance for a rewrite, a clean slate.
I see a lot of social network accounts for t-girls, crossdressers and transitionners, where the name they have chosen is a feminisation of their actual name. For some people that’s a big thing; subtly changing their name means that they still can feel themselves, even though the name is the feminine version (Pauline, Stephanie, Joanne etc). That never worked for me because I needed a distinction between her and him; even Diane was too close. See, for me when I started this interesting pink road, the female part of me was a cry for help, a statement of rebellion. I needed her to be almost equal and opposite to him. At the start and for a long time her was a pretence, a mask, something distant from him.
And this brings me to the other question/statement that inspired this blog. In the last four years or so the third person has almost completely disappeared. I now describe my ups and downs, my experiences, as me rather than her or him. And this leads me on to a massive revelation.
He no longer exists.
I know, dramatic statement, but it’s the truth. The person who started writing this blog, primarily as a way to express things deep inside I’d never seen, has crumbled slowly away. Maybe it’s the tinkering with the hormones, maybe it was realisation during Covid that all the things that ‘he’ thought were important weren’t. Either way the person who writes these blogs is a very different person to the one that started writing them four or so years ago.
And hence the change of tone. I’m a hybrid now; day to day, during work, I’m kinda the same old person but I’m not. When I accidentally/intentionally came out to my transitioned friend/colleague at work a while back she said a couple of things that struck me heavily. She said there was ‘something’ about me, the way I talked, the body language, that wasn’t male any more, and that it had changed subtly but noticeably over the last year.
When I work from home and I’m on video conferences my legs are always crossed, feminine style, under the desk. I like the way it feels and the way it makes me feel. It feels natural.
The reason I no longer refer to Sarah as ‘her’ when I write these blogs is I’ve past the point of balance; I’m more Sarah under the covers now than I am him. And what’s even more shocking and worrying is that it isn’t shocking or worrying at all. It just feels normal.
So, long story short; if (or when) I choose to jump, to put away his clothes and get mine out on a day to day basis, I won’t be ‘Sarah’. I’ll be something new, something clean, a fresh blackboard with pink trim ready to be written on. Sarah has as much, if not more, baggage than he did, and that baggage was like scar tissue; the learning process, the acceptance, the changes. I’ve done things with Sarah that the new me is a little ashamed of, the fetish outfits, the blatant self-hate. One of the lovely things about me right now is I’m, at least internally, at peace for the first time pretty much ever.
Yes, it could be the effect of smearing Estrogen gel on my upper leg every night (along with taking two high strength isoflavin tablets). But I like to think it’s saying a fond goodbye to ‘Ian’, who, as Caitlyn Jenner said in the documentary I watched (and yes, I don’t have a huge amount of time for her in terms of her politics but that documentary was stunning) ‘did his job well under pressure that was almost unbearable’. He suffered, he tried, he erred, but he got me here.
Anyway, way too deep for a Sunday night (plus three beers down). But I hope that answer why Sarah may not be around for a long time, and why I now talk about me and him instead of me and her.
Stay beautiful and be honest with yourself. In the long term it makes sense.