Friday afternoon, while touring the elementary school my eldest will start attending Monday:
‘And you’re…Lucy?’ The school counselor looks at me tentatively, unsure of her offering.
I smile at her, almost laughing, ‘No, Heather – but I still go by [deadname] for now. It’ll change in January or February. I know it’s a bit confusing.’
Heck, I felt confused in the moment. I was me, but I couldn’t really be me for them right then, but they saw me because I looked more like a Heather than a [deadname].
‘Oh, well you just tell us when you want us to start using your new name and we’ll change the records!’ the principal offered cheerfully.
‘Great, thank you!’
My wife had stood there somewhat awkwardly during this exchange and my child had already moved down the hall. As we finish the tour, I wonder where Lucy came from and who’s been talking to them about me.
Friday night at a friend’s house, where I’m helping them prepare for a Halloween party:
They call me Heather the entire time and don’t mix up my pronouns at all.
Saturday night, at a friend of a friend’s house where many of us were congregating to take our kids trick-or-treating:
Another family friend arrives with his new girlfriend, who I haven’t met yet. He sidles up to me, leans in, and asks in an undertone, ‘Should I introduce you as Heather or [deadname]?’
I think about it for a moment. I had been introduced as [deadname] to the friends of friends and other people there I’d never met before. Then it dawns on me that I haven’t told him about me. Someone else has told him along with my name.
Leaning back towards him I whisper, ‘No, [Deadname] and thanks for asking.’
He nods and introduces me.
Later Saturday night, after the kids have begged for candy and we’ve shifted to the party at my friend’s house, the hostess grabs me when I arrive and asks me, ‘Should I introduce you as Heather?’
‘No, but thanks for asking.’
A little later Saturday night at the party:
The wife of a couple I know takes in my costume of a guy’s black suit, black shirt, dark red tie, and makeup of a purple face with black around the eyes, blue ears, a copper nose, and black lips and asks, “So who are you tonight? You look like a [deadname], but I don’t want to assume.’
I mentally sigh. This is getting old. And it’s another person I’ve never talked to about me.
Smiling the best I can, I answer, “I’m [deadname] for the time being.’
Late late Saturday night, the party has wound down to the hosts, two other couples I know moderately well but who I haven’t talked to directly about me, and my sister-in-law:
Mid-conversation, the hostess just starts calling me Heather. Everyone’s been drinking and I roll with it. I’m not interested in having conversation about my name, which right now always leads into a transition timeline discussion.
Couple #1 cock their eyebrows and also go with it. Couple #2 look uncomfortable, but don’t say anything and avoid looking at or talking to me until they leave.