Practical Decisions

My partner and I were talking the other day about them possibly changing their name. Their birth name, which they currently go by, is decidedly a male name there’s really no getting around it. However, they’ve never really had a problem with it and have never expressed any real interest in changing it. They’re only thinking about it now, because they realize that at some point in the future their name alone will be enough to out them if they don’t change it, and that could be problematic at the very least.

This got me thinking about something that I’ve heard several other non-binary people talk about: the steps non-binary people take as part of their transition that are motivated more by practical needs (such as safety and the ability to decide who you come out to and when) more than by personal desire or dysphoria. For my partner these are things like changing their name and legal gender, for other people its things like using the pronouns “he” or “she” instead of their preferred gender neutral ones.

These practical decisions we make to protect ourselves and make our lives easier also force us to accept binary categorizations of our genders that make us invisible as non-binary people. I’m definitely not advocating against making these compromises, (we make them for our physical safety, our job security, and other very real things we need to survive) but I do lament the fact that we live in a world where they are necessary. I also wanted to write about this because its something I’d really like to have a conversation about with other non-binary people at some point.

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One thought on “Practical Decisions

  1. I made the choice to change my name to a non-gender-specific name and I feel like it was a really good choice for me. It avoids people saying “That’s an unusual name for a girl,” which is obviously hugely dysphoria inducing. It allows me to appear to seem to remain in any gender that I’m currently being perceived as, and there was no gender-related trouble in the courtroom. Obviously not the best option for everyone, but for me it was.

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