As you may have noticed, I’ve changed my name here (and for all my online presences) from Hannah Phillips to Hannah XX. I almost went to Hannah X, but I don’t want to look like I’m biting Malcolm X’s sandwich. He’ll always be the only X that matters to me.
XX is better for me anyway. It has meanings beyond letters. Like it’s shorthand for kisses at the end of a letter or note (remember those?). And perhaps more relevant to me, if you have XX chromosomes, science, and the world, consider your biological sex to be female.
It may not surprise you to learn that many of us trans folks take issue with the whole biological sex thing. Not that it isn’t a thing, but that it isn’t the thing that defines gender.
I don’t know what defines gender, or whether there is even a definition that fits all of us in the world. All I know is what I feel and what I’ve felt since I discovered that I existed. I don’t remember the day when I discovered that I existed, but it must have been something. When we realize we are. When we realize we exist.
Anyway, none of that is why I changed my name. I changed it because I inherited my legal last name from my father. The father who no longer speaks to me because of what I’ve “done to him,” by taking steps to become who I’ve always been.
I excused or made internal justifications for his rejection for a long time. I don’t think that’s unusual, is it? For trans people? We make excuses for the extraordinary, irrational rejection from those we love, and we cling to the hope that they will “come around” and accept us.
I did that. I did it for a long time. I don’t do it anymore. I don’t hold out hope, and frankly, if he ever extends an olive branch I will not accept it.
Harsh? I don’t know.
Is it as harsh as rejecting and demeaning your own child because you fail to understand who they are? Is it as harsh as responding to something that took a lifetime to say or express by complaining about how it affects you, how it makes you feel, and how wrong you believe it is?
Is it as harsh as doing all that at the very moment your child needs to feel your love and acceptance more than they have ever needed to feel it?
Well, that’s what my father did. He did it two years ago and hasn’t spoken or written to me since. The more I thought about it, the less inclined I felt to accept it, and the more I thought the best thing for my well-being would be to write him out of my life the same way he’s written me out of his.
Okay, between you and me, what I really thought was, “Well, dad, fuck you then. Later.” But I don’t really feel that way. That’s the angry, defensive child in me being angry and defensive.
But the bottom line is I don’t want to sport his name any longer. I can’t get rid of it legally – I mean, I could, but it took a year and a half to change my first name, and I don’t want to go through that again. I can’t go through that again. I just won’t let his name represent me publicly any longer.
The situation would probably be much more awful if I were alone in the world.
But I’m not alone. I have Ayin and enough close friends; they are all I need.
It’s all about the family you choose, right? Right!
We refuse to be
What you wanted us to be
We are what we are
That’s the way it’s going to be
– Bob Marley, Babylon System