“A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet”, or so claimed old Bill Shakespeare. I wonder if he would have felt the same if he was born with one of those Dickensian names like Chuzzy Wuzzilwhillikers? I’m thinking no, no he would not. Norma Jean and dozens of other celebrities will also testify to this in their adoption of new monikers that are more suited for the spotlight instead of mopping up spilled Clamato in aisle 3. To those of us who were born trans and fitted with most unfitting names understand this very well. That’s why I’m Michelle, dammit.
When I was but a child and dressed, I did it because it felt more comfortable and correct, but never gave any thought to my name while doing it. Yes, I already had identity issues, but I was also under the assumption that certain things were immutable, like bodies and names. One would only change the latter if on the lam after being framed for some horrible crime. The closest I came in those days was to imagine a kind of secret identity sort of thing and used to fantasize about running around Kenmore at night as the Ghost in a white leotard and tights, fighting crime and letting villains and police alike mistake me for female and thus removing all suspicion from my household. I got as far as attempting to make a costume, but it didn’t turn out right and I never ventured forth, probably for the better. Don’t you look at me that way, I’ve already let on that I was a pretty weird kid, so nothing should surprise you anymore.
I didn’t decide to actually name my female self until college and dabbled with a lot of different M based names. I don’t know why, but it seemed important to keep the same initials at the very least, partially because I liked the way I could sign things as MW by connecting the last leg of the M with the first of the W. For a while it was a close call between Molly and Michelle as I liked both equally. In retrospect, I chose slightly better as I ended up with a Molly, and sharing the name would have been just strange. Not that it would have eclipsed the gender change or anything, but still. Instead, Michelle just felt right to me and is now one more thing I share with my mother in law.
One of the cool parts about transitioning is that you get to choose your own name. The downside is that people feel free to comment on your choice of name, where they never would have had you been labeled at birth, even if you got stuck with Hubert or Blanch. At least after middle school anyway. As with many trans, I picked the female equivalent of my original name. I liked my original name, but it just wasn’t quite a fit. It didn’t stop me from getting questions and critique though, including from my own mother who came right out and said she wasn’t a fan. Don’t even get her started on my middle name. With her though, I understand. She did pick out ‘Michael’ like 10 years before I was born, so I can’t help but feel sympathy and understanding, and I’d keep it if it didn’t make me stand out.
As this has turned into a rambling type post instead of having a clear agenda or anything, I’d like to finish by saying names are often a dead giveaway in telling if a person is transsexual or a CD. Most trans usually won’t go with something ostentatious like ‘Isabella Nylonluvr’ or ‘Chestity LaRue’, and instead stick with Diana, Christina, and of course, Michelle. There are exceptions of course, but it seems like a rare CD who goes with ‘Joan’ or trans who adopts ‘Bambi’. We seem to have much less a desire for the attention. At the end of the day though, it’s just a name, rose smelling or not. Just don’t call me Shelly.