What’s in a name? I know I am old or getting older anyway. I’ve been told I’m having a midlife crisis. Why decide now to come out as non-binary, and why change my name now?
International Phonetic Alphabet: [ˈeɪʤɪ: ] 🔊
It is pronounced like aging without the -ng (This is how to pronounce aging.)
What’s in a name?
Those who know my story will be aware that I had forgotten the first 20 years of my life. Those who knew me from before the amnesia, however, will also know that I used to wear my first name with pride.
In fairness, the pride I had in my name, was more resonant with defiance. The same kind of rebelliousness that motivates people to accept labels such as queer, deviant, and divergent.
Yet is there a line that we don’t cross and where we say: enough with the slurs?
It seems that people don’t understand the power of a name. A name is not only an indication of gender, but it is an utterance that delivers a sense of identity encompassing every aspect of a person’s self.
I have spent the last few years working through some fragments of childhood memories that occasionally surface and this is what came to light.
I was baptised Angel in my native language. An auspicious male name, one would say.
For the first 2 years of my life my name was never spoken. After that and up to my teens, it was always only used to witness all kinds of abuse.
To start with, it was made clear very early on that someone with my name was most definitely male, and that this had to be accompanied by some unspecified degree of something called masculinity that nobody knew how to explain in any detail.
The reason given was that because I had certain body parts I was a boy. That gave an inherent responsibility to be a little man very early on. The only other option was to be a girl, and everybody was quite categorical that it was not an option. When asked why one had to choose at all, the answer was always an exasperated shake of the head: there were no other labels that could be used to define me. There was no choice but to comply.
The rules of masculinity were never explained. Sitting down to have a pee, however, was frowned upon and incited many conversations between adults who were worried that their boy would sit down to pee. Moving, talking, walking, standing, breathing, looking, interacting, and a whole range of other activities were also apparently associated with masculinity.
When asking for examples I would be told to watch how other boys behaved. Frankly, I did not see how they were doing anything differently from me, other than it was them doing it instead of me.
So, my name wasn’t just used to require masculinity. My name was associated with everything that I did wrong. Listen everybody in the whole wide world: Angel has done x, and that is WRONG! Everything that kid does is WRONG!
The way in which the name is exclaimed, the tone of voice, the breathing, the facial expressions, the look in the eyes … all become part of a child identity.
The name begins to take on a bitter taste rather rapidly.
And once humans target someone, they attack every aspect of that person’s life. If someone does not like us for any reason, they will find 100s more reasons to dislike us. And they will tell everyone they meet to try and get support in harassing their chosen victim.
The name is then adapted to indicate displeasure when pronounced. Both when people talk to us, and when they talk about us.
In my case, my absent masculinity was only part of the problems people attributed to me. I was a proper devil, fallen angel, broken angel, and all manner of alternative interpretations of my name. As well as very often being told that an angel would not do that, how can an angel do that, how can angel not know that, can an angel talk like that, … and all different permutations of the same slurs. Those who thought were being kind would say that even little angels have to come down to earth sometime in a clear reference to my toddler self’s perceived absent mindedness.
So, in behavioural therapy that child would be asked how could an angel not know how stand, pick something up, make certain body movements, and effectively how could an angel possibly not meet such basic expectations? The tones and look of disapproval were rather piercing.
In church the little was accused of being possessed by the devil, of proclaim falsehoods by pretending to be an angel, to be the devil in person or another lesser fallen angel, and in general just to be unworthy of some thing. Rather damagingly inappropriate blessings and exorcisms often accompanied these statements.
Neglect can also apparently be inspired by a name. Maybe god will feed him, let him spend some time alone with god, well, he deserves to be alone with his sins …
In the playground kids taunt a child that isn’t even loved by their parents because he is the devil.
On the way home from school bullies would throw punches happily stating that no god, angel, or demon would come to help …
However, once the paedos start to flock around a young one, they seemed to love a rejected name. Oh, you are such a little angel … you do x like an angel …
So much meaning in a name …
This is my given name, and this is how my name was used to haunt, taunt, use, and persecute me. I have now reached a stage where I can reject all the assumed and given meanings and I don’t need to accept my name any longer, even if in defiance.
Transitioning for me is a rather simple matter. I have tried to be a proper male in public but always owned up to being fully in touch with my feminine side; often by overcompensating femininity with good doses of toxic masculinity. So now it is just about having finally found a label that fits me comfortably and using it out loud and stop being defensive: non-binary. Changing my name is simply an outward expression of an inner truth I have always known but never properly identified before.
This is my story, everybody has a different one, but each will have some similarities:
A name is not just a declaration of gender identity. A name is an expression of our overall identity and includes gender, but also encompasses so many other aspects of our sense of self.AG
Using the correct name makes us complete. Seals the deal, so to speak. Otherwise, a name is a tool of oppression and persecution.
Everyone attaches their own personal meaning to our name, and that is why we all need to choose one that is fitting of our story, our journey, and our identity.AG
Some of us are lucky and were given a name that is fit for purpose the first time. Others need to change it.
I am AG.
My chosen name are my initials, and it is more than a gender-neutral name. It is a symbol that I accept the legacy of conditioning and coercion I experienced while making it clear that I am beyond that. My life began as it did, but I decide where that journey ends. I firmly transcend my name and clearly do not fit the mould of a conforming member of the sheeple community.
What does your name mean? 💙