~*~fifteen minute interlude ensues where I type and delete 45 different openings to this blog post~*~
Okay, I'm just gonna launch into this. Are you ready? I'm not ready. Are you ready? Okay. Okay. Let's go with this. Let's go with:
I have been called "Emma" so many times.
12 years of grade school and four years of college, at the beginning of each class, "is Emma Delsohn here?" I'd raise my hand, nodding awkwardly, refusing to say anything out loud. That's my name, Emma. Emma Caitlin Delsohn, reporting for duty. Emma Caitlin Delsohn, girly as fuck.
Each friend I've made has met me as 'Emma.' Each time I've been grounded, it's been 'Emma Caitlin Delsohn, you are GROUNDED, go to your room." Any time I've been addressed with serious anger, serious affection, serious confusion, serious love, it's been 'Emma.' The greatest emotions I have experienced, and the greatest emotions I have inspired in other people, have all been attached somehow to 'Emma,' this name that I've held for 21 years.
As you can imagine, I'm pretty nervous about changing it.
It has been frustrating, to feel that such a beautiful name, the wonderful gift of 'Emma' my parents chose for me, has served to enforce an idea of myself I do not agree with and find inherently limiting. This is no fault of mine or my family; I have girl parts, and I was raised with the expectation I would identify with them. Such is the case of most humans on this earth, AKA cisgender people. What I've only recently been able to fully accept is that I am actually transgender.
DISCLAIMER: Though I am describing my subjective experience as a transgender individual, there are an infinite amount of ways to interpret and express one's gender identity. Please do not assume that the way I have chosen to perceive and react to my gender has anything to do with the lives of any other transgender individuals. Please and thank you otherwise I'll gag you with my binders to make you stop talking trash.
The way I'll explain it now, is like, okay: When I walk outside in the morning, preparing to start my day, turning the key in the lock of my front door and walking up the basement steps, with my hands in the pockets of my oversized leather jacket and my brow furrowed in anticipation of potential dangers/people I'm expected to say hi to, I see myself as male. Not that I imagine I look physically different than I do, necessarily-- I understand my essence as male. Nevermind that I don't put much stock in essentialism, that I don't think I can be put in a box of purely male or female, but I have always felt that I have a particularly masculine energy. I'm not really sure how else to explain it. Though I do have feminine qualities, and occasionally enjoy exercising said qualities, my feminine side feels more like an act, a deliberate construct I've worked hard to build on my own; I'm aware I look mad good when I put on a dress, but I can't help but feel that when I wear overtly feminine clothing, that I'm kinda naked, or somehow dressing in drag. This is also how I've started to feel when people call me 'Emma.'
When I allow myself to fully tap into the idea of myself as a predominantly masculine person, I feel stronger and more confident. I know many women who derive power and confidence from their femininity; in most cases, these are the women I've at one point begged to marry me, even though I'm yet to convey any signs of breaching adulthood. I have tried for so long to find a source of greatness within the small part of myself I deem as feminine, and while I love and continue to build my feminine side, it is not something I truly identify with.
When I think of myself as a man, a good man, I am the person I want to be: kind, gentle, patient, honorable, strong, someone who speaks their mind and stands up for what is right. If I am ever lucky enough to find a life partner, I want to call myself a husband; if I am ever doubly lucky enough to have children, I want to call myself a dad. I want the suits and the baseball gloves and the cries of 'grandpa!' in the morning. I don't know if all these wants and ideas mean I'm really a dude in some essential way, or if I'm some sort of girl-guy mashup, but regardless, I wanted to change something to reflect this broader realization. I want an element of my public image to reinforce that even with the adorable girl body I was born with, I can be a fucking awesome dad; I wanted to make a concrete change that would remind me, each time I am addressed, that I can be anyone, that I can go anywhere.
With that being said: Hi. My name is Max. I've already met you, but I'd like you to meet me again.
Q1: So you're a dude now? You were always a dude? Am I dude? What ARE dudes? WHAT?!?!?!
A1: The best way I can explain this is that I feel I have always been a predominantly masculine person, in a decidedly feminine body. I do not feel I am purely masculine; I think most people have both masculine and feminine qualities, but since I was very young I have had the sense that I am more guy than girl at heart, which I attribute a good deal of my initial discomfort/awkwardness surrounding being alive to. I am now simply changing my name to reflect a seemingly permanent part of my identity.
Q2. When I talk shit about you behind your back, which pronouns should I use?
A2. Please feel free to talk about me behind my back using any pronouns you like. At this stage in the game, I am only confident about changing my name to Max, a name that is predominantly masculine but also can be used for a girl. This way, regardless of how I present, I can feel that my name is properly reflective of who I am, rather than in conflict with it more than half the time. I think most people are using she/her pronouns for me, but other people have told me they have switched to they/them or he/him. Whatever you feel most comfortable with is fine. If I decide pronouns start really mattering to me, I'll post another sort of PSA that everyone will no doubt be itching to read.
Q3. Does this mean you're gonna take pills/shots now to become a dude now?
A3. You're referring to FTM testosterone therapy, which is used by some transgender people to change their body to more accurately reflect their gender identity, not "become a dude," as you so crudely put it, dickhead. While testosterone therapy is still certainly on the table for me, I do not feel I need to start that process at this time; I would only start hormones after more extensive research, thought, and counseling on the subject. I am trying to exercise as much creativity as possible in thinking about how I am most comfortable presenting and interacting with other people as well as myself; at this time, my gender identity feels too fluid/ambiguous to commit to a process as irreversible as hormone therapy. Though many transgender people start hormone therapy at a young age, I recognize that I am not in their same position and want to honor my own version of figuring things out, however long that takes.
A3b. I know, I know how hot I would look.
Q4. Why did you choose the name Max?
A4. I have always loved the name Max. I don't know why. Though I've been toying with the idea that I am transgender since age 17, I have found the name change thing to be a huge road block, because I always assumed I'd have to change my name to Edward, Eddie, or Ed (disregard that this logic makes literally no sense). Once I thought of the name Max, everything clicked. I'm stoked that Max uses the last two letters of 'Emma,' so I can continue to pay tribute to the beautiful name my parents chose for me, and that people can still use the nickname 'M.'
A4b. The kid in A Goofy Movie, the gay Jew uncle in The Sound of Music, the nickname for Woody Allen in Annie Hall, and the protagonist in James Patterson's Maximum Ride series: all fucking awesome characters named Max.
Q5. Who are you out to, Max? Should I call you Max in public/to my friends/at work?
A5. Well, okay. In most cases, I am out to everyone, so please feel free to call me Max to anyone you like. The only thing I'm still trying to work out is how I want to handle things at my place of work (shout-out to WC how's it going everyone?!?!?!). If you are reading this and you are a co-worker of mine, for now don't worry about calling me Max at work, as I haven't officially come out there and am not sure if I will. This isn't because I'm worried about acceptance at all; I'm working hardly any hours next quarter, which is my last quarter, and I honestly just feel a little guilty making everyone learn my new name just so I can graduate in two months. I'll figure out what I want to do within the next two weeks and then folks will know what's up.
A5b. If it takes you a long time to make the change in your mind from 'Emma' to 'Max,' don't beat yourself up about it. It's a big change, for me, too, and I'm prepared to be fully patient with this process. I am in this process with you. This process is a jacuzzi and no one is getting out until summertime, when it's too hot to be in the jacuzzi and everyone's brains have finally adjusted to calling me Max.
A5c. Sorry I can't make good jokes right now I'm too nervous.
Q6. Okay, "Max," so I've got the name down and I promise to start calling you it as soon as I convince my brain not to remember you as "Emma" anymore. I'll use any pronouns I feel like when throwing shade, but tell me this-- Why are you posting this long-winded blog post about changing your name?
A6. I am changing my name not to further isolate myself from the mainstream, not to gain attention or declare myself special, but because I want to connect better with the people around me. I want to greet people with less fear, less shame, and more honesty, more clarity. Each time I hear the name Max, it reminds me why I've made this huge decision: I want to continue constructing a self that defends their true nature, that lives and speaks unapologetically, that is unafraid of what will happen when pure intuition and good intention take over. I don't want anyone in my life to feel excluded from this part of me; I want to bring you all in. I want to answer your questions, I want to listen to your concerns, because I want to trust you to see and care about me, as I hope you'll trust me to see and care about you. More than anything, I want you to see more of who I am, random reader at any given corner of the Earth/west coast. I don't want to keep this from you anymore.
So, that's what's been up with me. I'm changing my name to Max as the first step in a long journey of further understanding my identity; from here, I could go in any direction, and I can't tell you how great that feels. I hope that you'll all help me attach the weight of anger, affection, love, confusion, bitterness, S3X!N3$$, regret, horror, surprise, esteem, and whatever other emotions you've got, to my brand new shiny name.
Please do call me Max. I'm so glad we could be introduced.