I remember being ill when I was a kid, maybe five or six years old. I had a fever, and to see if I was delirious my mum asked me, “What’s your name?”
I thought about it. I started to panic. “What is my name?” I cried. She told me all three of my names, my first name, my middle name, and my surname. I still remember the relief as I heard them, as I recognised them, and realised that I had known them all along. “Oh,” I said. “I knew that.”
Tonight my phone rang, and someone I didn’t know called me by those same three names, but this time it was the opposite of a relief. I froze. I was aware of myself sitting there doing nothing, my mouth open, not responding. I didn’t know what to say.
I’ve read that some trans people have always dreamt about themselves in their identified gender. Normally the question of gender identity doesn’t arise in my dreams – I’m just me – but last night, somewhere in the trajectory of a narrative about an entanglement with a morally dubious lounge singer, I looked in a mirror, and saw my dream-brain’s construction of me, post-transition. What I saw was, more or less, this:
David Mitchell as snooker commentator
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of David Mitchell, but I don’t think I could honestly say that this is his strongest look. So here are a couple of suggestions, brain: if you’re going to imagine me in five or ten years’ time, couldn’t we go for something a bit more like this:
David Hockney, by Cecil Beaton, March 1965 – NPG x14108 – © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby’s London
Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice
Or, you know, maybe even this:
Robert Downey Jr vs lederhosen
Meanwhile, when I’m awake, I’m seeing myself in the mirror as a guy much more often, which feels great. Once again, the dream-brain just needs to catch up.
Since transitioning socially, I’ve had fairly regular anxiety dreams in which my hair has grown back to shoulder length and “turned me back into a woman”.
Again? Damn it! Where are my clippers?
Last night, however, I had a new kind of anxiety dream:
I’d used the wrong public bathroom. Unfortunately, there was no show-down as pictured above, just a sense of guilt and embarrassment. But at least my dream-brain seems to be working out where I’m supposed to be.
In other news, thank you to the pharmacist who “ma’am”ed me repeatedly this evening; the dysphoric feelings helped me switch off the self-doubt for a while.
Transguy + shark week = NOPE.
Transguy + shark week + public toilets = NOPE.
Transguy + shark week + “feminine hygiene products” = NOPE NOPE NOPE.
Redesigning shark week = making things a little bit better.