My dead name is not something that I dread with absolute hatred, however, it is also not something I enjoy hearing. And, being in my situation, I am often in an environment where my legal name has to be used. The most frustrating part of this situation is that I was so close to actually getting my name legally changed. I finally had the money and time for it, but of course it seems that life goes down as soon as it goes up. I was unable to change it because I moved to another county and local laws say I must live in that county for a full year before I can get it changed. You can imagine how I felt after I heard that news.
This is especially frustrating and nerve-wracking because I am a student who is stealth right now. Luckily, all of my professors are cool about using my actual and desired name. This way, none of my classmates have to hear my dead name. The biggest drawback is that I graduate very soon, and I cannot have my actual name on my diploma until I get a name change. I can order a new one with the name change if I don’t have it changed in time, but is still disappointing. Think of it like this, when you get your diploma what is the first thing you do? Take a picture with it of course. I will not be taking a picture of mine because it is not truly me. But, I know that soon I will be next and finally be able to get it changed.
Going out in public to places where I must use my legal name is also pretty horrific. The first thing I get is a weird look and then an awkward smile. I have heard two people say back to me, “Oh, my aunt/daughter is named *******.” Getting compared to female family members is not something I enjoy obviously, but because they most likely do not know I am trans and am super insecure about my legal name, they don’t think about it. My response is usually just to smile and laugh it off a little bit.
My favorite memory of being out in public and having to use my name is at the good ol’ DMV. What’s funny is that in my state, it’s way easier to get your gender marker changed than to get your name legally changed. Therefore, when I went to the DMV to get my gender marker changed, the staff was very much confused. I am guessing I was one of the first people to get their gender marker changed, but did not change their name. Other than them being confused, I waited for four hours because all of their computers were down except for one. Finally, I was able to get it changed it though! That was the important part of the day.
In my mind, there is a plan B for just about every scenario that has to deal with explaining my name so that I don’t out myself. Sometimes I say that my legal name is my real name but I go by my “middle name.” When I was in high school, I’d often use the excuse that they “must have gotten my name mixed up with my sister’s name.” These always worked for me, thankfully. I am not afraid of being outed, I am more afraid of just blanking out and not having a good enough lie to pass it off. People ask me what the best excuse to use is, and I usually just tell them to play it off as normal. Think about it, there are men named Stacy and women named Devon. They most likely won’t think about it twice.
Dead names can be such a drag, but we only have to hear them for a certain amount of time. Soon that name will be changed and all will be okay. If someone uses your dead name and you can’t think of an excuse, remember, not every cis male or female have the most masculine or feminine names. There is nothing to be ashamed of because it was once a part of you.