Dec. 23—Reverb10—New name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why? (Prompt author: Becca Wilcott)
I went by Jo for a while in jr. high—the first two letters of my middle name, Joyce, and one of my favorite characters in Little Women. Not that most people in my jr. high would have been familiar with that character or what she symbolized, but it did give me more of a tomboy name. My body conspired against me at 12 and 13, sprouting things on my chest that I couldn’t always hide with books. With hips and an ass, I couldn’t hide the fact that I was female and yet I wanted to remain a kid–to simply hang out with the boys (got along with them a lot better than girls), play football, have pizza eating contests and goof around in band. But they started wanting other things—just a peek, a glimpse of the places that confused me. I’m not sure why I tried to go by Jo for awhile. An attempt to forestall the inevitable journey into womanhood?
There are still days that I don’t want people to recognize me first as a woman. There are preconceptions that we all have on first meeting a man or a woman as much as we try not for them to exist. I enjoy being a woman, but frankly there are still times when I feel that I am treated differently because of my sex. If I were to choose a different name to introduce myself in person, it would be TJ (my first and middle initials) and that’s what I use online. There’s a bit of ambiguous sexuality unless what I am writing makes it really clear that I’m female. I reclaim a bit of my tomboy self and besides, a lot of authors use that two initial style—maybe some of that writing mojo will rub off on me by continuing a tradition. But there’s only person who really calls me TJ in my daily life and when he does, it’s the most beautiful name in the world.