K is coming home for Andrew’s graduation. He will be home in 3 days and his visit will last for a week. We haven’t seen him in 4-1/2 months and I have missed him. In honor of his arrival, I decided to check out his bedroom. This is something I rarely do because he’s a slob. He left a major mess behind and I just wasn’t up for the challenge. I decided to settle on making a pile of the clothes that looked like they had been worn or at the very least weren’t folded anymore. I threw out the obvious garbage and made piles of the papers, notebooks, books, journals. I opened a folder, which felt like it was empty. If that was the case, I planned on adding it to my collection for future use. To my surprise, I opened it to find a copy of K’s birth certificate sitting neatly in the pocket.
And just like that I found myself all choked up, staring at the record of my baby girl’s birth complete with the name I had chosen. While my husband and I had picked out names for my other two sons together, K’s name was all my doing. I first heard the name on a soap opera when I was about 15 years old. I loved that name from the minute I heard it and I vowed to give it to my daughter. I continued to love the name all the way up until just under 3 years ago.
I knew that he would be changing his name. I was expecting it. And the story behind his choice is very important to our family story. Maybe I’ll share that another day but this post is about why I refer to him as K. The first 9 months after he told me he was transgender was incredibly difficult. K was away at his first year of college and every time I saw him, we ended up fighting. It resulted in me not speaking to him until I saw him again..which ended up with us fighting and not speaking. It tore me apart- every single fight. We had never fought like this before. A few months in he asked to be called by a male name. I brought up the issue of what was on his identification. I wasn’t doing it to be difficult. I was just expressing concern about him having 2 separate names- one legal, one not. In a very candid and painful moment, he asked if I realized how much he despised the sound of his birth name (“that name”- as he referred to it in a tone of distaste, disgust, dislike), how it made him feel. And in that second, all my feelings for “that name” changed.
It took months for me to easily call K by a different name. At first I thought it would never come out naturally. But just like when you bring that new baby home and calling him by his name takes time to feel right, it happened with K. Now it’s his birth name that feels foreign when I say it. Both names start with K and when I started writing about him, I would just put a K down. I wasn’t sure if I was going to refer to him by his former name when I wrote about the time when he was still a girl or not. The K stuck.
And for now, I’m going to file this copy of his birth certificate away with a few other precious things, take a deep breath and face that bedroom again!