I heard my birth name for the first time in years today. it’s a rare name that caused me a great deal of emotional pain. It was a label that was forced on me for 18 years that never fit. Hearing it, even when it’s directed at someone else, brought back all the old feelings of shame and humiliation. I half expected someone to mutter one of the old insults at me, my face turning red as all eyes turned to me in disgust.
Brodey, age 9.
Every day as I wrote my birth name on school papers I resented myself a little more. Day after day I was taught to despise myself for who I was. Why couldn’t I just be normal? Why did my gender have to be so fucked up? I believed that I was wrong, incorrect, a mistake. I believed that I was alone, the only one, because there weren’t any other people like me on tv or in books. My local library didint even have an LGBT section. Visibility matters but it’s not the only thing we need.
Brodey, 15, with his dog Sammy
We need to believe trans people when they tell us who they are. You’re never too young to know. Educate yourself; trans kids aren’t allowed hormones OR surgery; allowing these kids to socially transition & take hormone blockers to DELAY the start of puberty until they’re ready to choose what’s right for them saves lives. It’s a completely reversible process but the truth is that less than 1% of these kids go back to living as their gender assigned at birth. The risk for suicide is very real and it hits Trans folks when we’re young; my first suicide attempt was at 7 years old. I couldn’t handle the pain of no one believing me.
Brodey, age 15
I remember the hearing to change my name legally 13 years ago, to even get the court date my name change had to be posted in the local newspaper for four weeks. It was humiliating. Now EVERYONE knew it and people were using it to cut me. In court, having to actually say my birth name out loud for the last time was both horrific and cathartic. The judge was sympathetic, but I’ll never forget the look of shock on her face as I stood up when she called out my birth name. She said “Really?!” Before stamping approval on my name change and saying “Have a great life Brodey.” I fought so hard to be recognized as my true self because so much of our society is gendered and based on imaginary science about the differences in gender. We’re taught that gender is like left and right, opposite; but the reality is a spectrum. Trans people have been around since the dawn of time and we’ve been in literature as well. We’ve gone by different names, and here are some of the earliest recorded executions of trans folks;
- Venice, 1354; Rolandina Ronchaia, burned to death (trans woman).
- London, 1395; John/Eleanor Rykener, Gender Queer, burned at the stake.
- Germany, 1477; Katherina Hetzeldorfer, trans man; drowned.
- 1721; Catherina Linck; trans man, married a woman, beheaded.
- Jack Garland, trans man, California, died 1936, natural causes. It was not known that he was assigned female at birth until his autopsy.
[Trans Like Me, Pg 151-152]
I said goodbye to the name, forgiving myself for hating a piece of myself that wasn’t truly a piece of me. I’m thousands of miles away from where those things happened to me, and yet there still so close. Today no one knows me by the wrong label. Now, people see the real me, in all my Queer glory.
My name is my label. There’s no other way to describe who I am and what I’ve been through except to say that I am Brodey Ryan Bartlett.