One of my first memories was how much I hated my birth name.
I was the year 2000. I was six years old and about to go to my first disco at the PCYC across from my primary school. I don’t remember much about it, but I vividly remember the discomfort I felt when I heard Mambo No. 5 by Lou Bega. That song was everywhere in the early 2000s; you couldn’t escape it if you tried. The chorus listed all the women Lou Bega had dated.
“A little bit of Monica in my life
A little bit of Erica by my side
A little bit of Rita is all I need
A little bit of Tina is what I see
A little bit of Sandra in the sun
A little bit of Mary all night long…”
It seems like a cruel joke that my name was last, almost like the song was mocking me, delighting in the discomfort that would build up in my body through the entire chorus. In true six-year-old humour, all of my peers pointed and laughed. “That’s your name!” I was humiliated just from having my name pointed out to me by everyone. It felt wrong to hear my name grouped with feminine names. Fortunately, the Bob the Builder version of that song was released soon after and it was so good that I almost forgot about the original. I maintain that the Bob the Builder version is better, dysphoria or not.
Mambo No. 5 represents a big chunk of my childhood name dysphoria. The wave of unease honestly still hits me whenever I am unlucky enough to hear it, even at nearly twenty seven years old.
I now only go by the shortened version of my name, socially and professionally. It still skews towards feminine, but I can deal with it. Before I considered that being trans was an option, I considered legally changing it. Everyone in my life knows that I don’t like my name, but they don’t know the full extent of it. I have a stupid joke with my friends:
“You are allowed to call me “birthname” once a month. You can’t bank them and they don’t carry over into the next month. Once per month is all you get.”
The ‘free name pass’ mostly gets used when I’ve done something stupid, made an awful pun, or forgotten to clean up at work. Once it was used at boxing to make me punch harder. I can’t blame them for doing so. It’s a stupid rule that I made up to minimise how often I would get called my full name, but tell somebody that you can’t do something and that’s all they want to do. I am probably at a place where I can tell my friends that I really don’t want to be called my full name anymore. I don’t have to give them the full reason, but I’m sure that will read between the lines and know that it’s gender-related.
So, where does that leave me with ‘Jace’?
Despite what others may think, it has nothing to do with Shadowhunters. Jace sounds very similar to the shortened version of my birth name. With the combination of wearing a mask at work, my awful mumbling and poor enunciation, sometimes patients mishear me when I introduce myself to them. Most of the time I get ‘Jeff?’, followed by a very confused look from a usually elderly hard-of-hearing patient. But last year a guy in his late teens or early twenties thought I said Jace. It was a lightbulb moment for me. I’m not one of those people who could just change their name to something completely different. That’s just not me. Jace is a name that I could see myself with. My only qualm is that it does not sound like a 90’s name, which could tip me off in the future should I choose to transition and go stealth. Oh, and Jace is similar to my dog’s name, Gracie. But are they reasons enough to ditch one of the only names that I have connected with so far?
For the moment, I’m sticking with it. I have changed my name on some of my private social media accounts where no one I know follows me, just to see how it feels. I have also created this blog and paid for the domain name for a year which is quite the commitment. Let’s see how it goes.