being home has been a trip on multiple accounts, not the least of which is being in a space/around people who were (and maybe still are?) unaware of my gender identity and current recognition of its discord with my gender expression as perceived. whoa, that was my verbose approach at explaining my situation without using the word “transition”, because i don’t think it accurately describes anything about what i’m going through (unless perhaps written as trans*ition…) and discovering about myself. it sounds super fucking cheesy/cliche, but i’ve really started thinking of gender as a journey (read: transition), rather than a destination. so i kinda think my whole life will be a transition. i think i’m starting to understand the anti-determinism feelings amongst members the queer community [not to speak broadly, holy hell i would never do that, but just that the only people in the alphabet soup that i've ever seen cringe when someone says 'i was born this way' are the q's. and i cringe. and i'm queer.].
whoa, that whole paragraph was kind of a digression. the point i was trying to get at is that i almost feel like i’m starting over the ‘coming out’ process again (fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck, i hate that the notion of coming out exists sooooooo much. let’s just all stop assuming anything about anyone so that we all have to come out about everything to everyone. maybe conversation will ensue? what??? talk to people???!?). but basically when i got back to chicagoland, very few people knew about any of this. and so i’ve had a lot of first conversations with people. and it’s offered me more and more chances to refine my explanation and my definition of myself. and hone the levels to which i might explain myself to others, depending on them. [see that? them used as both a number AND gender neutral pronoun! suck it!]
and i’m really glad because i met up with a genderqueer group in chicago (i dunno if it’s kosher for me to link or not?) and, in addition to having a really good time and meeting some awesome people, i had a chance to introduce myself to a totally new and totally welcoming group of people.
and so it offered me the chance to consider, once again, how i would want to be addressed. because i was in a space with people that would, without any pretense, call me by EXACTLY what i requested. (it’s laughable that this is a distinction that can be made among social interactions…i honestly wish every group meeting i had started with a round-table of ‘preferred name and pronouns’.). and it offered me another chance to say ‘male are fine, but whatever’, not as if anyone would misgender me as female (i think unlikely at this point?), but more acknowledging that i’m kind of ambivalent about pronouns because i don’t know how i feel about any of them. i really wish their were better options, linquistically speaking, but there aren’t, so i’m kinda playing around with things.
and as soon as i starting thinking about pronouns, my brain obviously connects to thinking about my name. which, as it stands in full, is a very ‘masculine’ name: joseph lawrence. honestly, my middle name is never going to change, since that’s my father’s name, and i carry it with honor. middle names have no standards of gender/actually nameness/whether it’s a first or a last name/etc etc. and joseph, well, it’s me. it’s masculine, yes, but it’s got a lot of gender flexible potential. and it’s always who i’ve identified as. joseph l is me. but joseph is the male counterpart of many a female name that are all abbreviated in a similar fashion to joseph…
oddly enough, i got asked a month ago when i was putting my name in for a table at brunch if it was ‘joe with an e?’, which i thought very gendered (i know of no men who have jo as a first name), which totally caught me off guard. but it also made me realize that the nickname versions of joseph could actually be fairly gender neutral, spelling-dependent, because they’re homophones to the nickname versions of josephine, johanna, joette, etc. and this popped into my head as i’m introducing myself once again. does the word ‘joe’ or ‘jo’ come out of my mouth? am i ‘uncle joey’ or ‘uncle joey’ or ‘uncle jooey’? it’s kind of fun to have a name that is flexible. in the way that i feel that i am.
i think my parents were very prescient in giving me my name. and i honestly don’t think i’ll ever change it.