E needed blood work. It was absolutely not what he wanted to do on his day off, but we had to get it done. I had made an appointment at a lab. I had to warn him.

“Remember, the insurance card still has your old name. The insurance company has that information. So, at the lab they will call us into the room using your old name. The papers will have the wrong name on it. But you know who you are. And everyone that matters in your world knows who you are. I know it stinks, but it’s what it is for today.”

He wasn’t happy.

We get there and live through the technician calling the old name out into the waiting room. We live through the blood draw. Now all I have to do is sign off on the forms for insurance and we can beat it.

The papers list E’s old name, as expected. But under his gender marker: M. This is where my head starts to swirl. The technician obviously entered this information based on what she saw: a little boy. And she is right; E is male. But the insurance company doesn’t know that, and I need them to honor this claim. I need the form to say F not M, even though that is wrong. And I need to straighten that out with E in the room. Which I do.

The irony.

E handled it all like a trooper, but it did bring up an issue that lingers in his mind. When things like this happen, the place he immediately goes to is this: When are we changing my name??? I’m sure, I’m 110% sure I’m a boy so when are we changing my name?”

That part is my fault. I’m dragging my feet. In my own defense, there is a lot of talk in the community of trans kids about the period of time where the kids are on hormone blockers. This period of time is considered breathing room, a safe space for the kids to fully settle into themselves and be sure. That is the space we are in. So there is part of me that feels like we should wait this time out and get to that landing of certainty before we do something like legally change his name.

But he says he is certain. He lives that certainty and has for a very long time. And as his mother, I know it’s true in that way that moms know things. There are situations like these that come up that are extremely uncomfortable for him. We were lucky that his school granted our request to change his name in their system, but many trans kids are not so lucky. There are doctors visits, passport related excursions, even issues related to E’s hockey registration or his pass to the town swimming pool. These encounters with his old name are like running into an old unwelcome interloper who is calling into question E’s very being.

I understand that and want to get him that relief. I haven’t yet. I have to ask myself: is it a step that I am not ready for? Letting go of one of the last remnants of my daughter. (But haven’t I already??) Letting go of The. Absolute. Perfect. Name. (Haven’t I???)

I don’t know. It’s so much muddy sand to sift through. Long understood concepts of gender, gendered dreams and hopes for your child that you don’t even know you have, conflicting feelings of joy and fear, celebration and loss. I need to acknowledge it all. I need to remind myself that it’s a process filled with complex emotions and realities. And when I tire, I concentrate on what remains once the sand falls away: my child, my love for him.

2 thoughts on “Sifting

  1. I know it must be difficult for you as a parent, but speaking as a grown-up version of the boy E is now, having my name change taken care of there and then would have been one of the best things I could ever have imagined. If and when you decide to go through with it, just know how thankful and grateful he will be to have it out of the way. It’s just one more battle you will be sparing him when he grows up. One more way that a difficult decision now will smooth the way for the rest of his life.
    By the way, a lot of medical offices will take a “preferred” name down and use that name to call patients even if the legal name on their forms is different. Before my and my partner’s names were legally changed, we had preferred names lodged with all of our doctors and labs.

    1. Dear J, Thank you so much for this comment. Changing his name is something that we will surely do, it’s just a matter of “when” and your input will help clarify that for us. So, thank you. Also, I didn’t know that about doctor’s offices and I will definitely remember that the next time we make an appointment at a new place. I’ve notified all his regular doctors and his dentist, orthodontist etc. so it isn’t a problem there. But there are always new situations that come up and while I try to make them as comfortable for him as possible, it doesn’t always work out that way. It is infinitely helpful for me to hear your perspective and I hope that you keep checking in and sharing with me! Thank you again.

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