Around 7 or 8 months ago, I realised that I was becoming exponentially uncomfortable when referred to by my deadname. My friends had been calling me Roxy for many months by that point, so I knew that it was indubitably time to take the next step, and start telling people in the public domain that my chosen name was (now) Roxy. This confrontation was a huge emotional challenge for me. I risked ridicule and rejection every time I simply told someone my name. At least with friends you have the luxury of knowing how they typically react to unexpected surprises.
When someone uses my chosen name in my presence, it is a clear signal that I am acknowledged, recognised and accepted by them. If my deadname is used instead, my brain hurriedly goes into analytical mode, looking for indications as to whether it’s use was deliberate or accidental. Occasionally, old habits have been reverted to, and I’ve been accidentally subjected to my deadname by those that try really hard to remember. Nearly every time, though, I have been referred to by my chosen name since I publicly announced that I was transitioning.
On 5 or 6 occasions, in fast paced, noisy environments like cafes, staff have occasionally assumed that they must have misheard me. They have queried back to me what they thought I had said. I have variously been called Rock, Rocks, Ross, and several other minor variations that have since slipped from my memory. In each of these instances, my name had been masculinised. In each case, I had winced, physically and emotionally.
Sunday night just gone was different. Perhaps the tide has turned. I had ordered a takeaway dinner at a local fast food restaurant. The young woman taking my order raised her head with a slightly confused look on her face when I gave the name for my order. I steeled myself for yet another masculinised version of my name.
“Rosie?”, she queried. I very nearly jumped the counter to hug her.