Dead Name

What is this blog about? Me? You? Is it a discussion, in fact? I can tell you what it isn’t. I’m not selling anything. Not even myself. I don’t offer a window into what is trans, even. It isn’t about grammar, spelling or syntax. It’s not based in hard, cold, evidence. You can’t call it creative non- fiction. Is it considered memoir? Who knows? It’s from my brain. My heart. I laugh and cry when I write it. I write it for me. I don’t have much of an idea of who I’m writing to. As much as I want to know you, I’m fairly certain the discussion I have when I write these posts is perhaps, with myself.

I’ll use words like shit and asshole. Fuck. Mother fucker. Cock and cock sucker. But one thing you’ll not ever see me do is dead name a trans person. What, you say? You don’t use names. Only initials. Oh, well. This one time I’ll dead name someone. Me. My dead name is Janis. When I was little I was shy beyond words and I gave my name as Janisin. I made a face, if you picture a very shy one and my chin dug into my right shoulder and gave a goofy smile. My mother chastised me for this. “Your name isn’t Janisin,” she’d bite. “It’s Janis!”

It’s not the only thing she did that caused me to hate my ‘given’ name; my ‘real’ name. She drew out the ‘s’ like a snake would when they’d hiss, especially when she was pissed. Janisssss, I’d hear and I loathed it. I hated it because I was a boy and it was a girl’s name. “Were you named after Janis Joplin?” People sometimes ventured. No. “Janis Ian?” No. I always thought Mother picked my name and felt a twinge when, recently, I learned it was Dad’s name for me. I really love my dad.

He shortened it to Jan Pan when I was in elementary school and I’d been grateful. When I was old enough I made an attempt to change my first name to Jan. Mother still calls me Janis. My younger sister, of four years, said she asked Mother why she insisted on using Janis and Mother replied, “Because I like the name.” So much for respecting me. Generally, with her, I choose my battles. Believe it or not, no matter how much the hair stands on the back of my neck when I’m dead named, I have other more pressing issues to confront her with. Dead naming takes a back seat.

My therapist, L, says I have the right to request/require people to use my chosen name, Sam. I say,”Well, Sam is my pen name.” When I change my gender markers and name on official documents I will use Jan on my records. I sat next to a boy in home room and he was one of twins. His brother’s name was Jerry and his name was Jan. I always thought that was so cool. When I grew up I’d change my name, ‘in the books,’ I told myself, to Jan. Lose the ‘IS’ forever. And I’d never be dead named again.

About sam davies

I write under the pseudonym, Sam Davies.
This entry was posted in Dead Naming, Gender Markers, Reality, support, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Dead Name

  1. contoveros says:

    What’s in a name?

    Wouldn’t a Jan smell just as sweet as a Janis?

    Or even a Janison?

    Michael J


    • sam davies says:

      Michael J, Thanks for your sentiment. But that’s the point, my friend. When a trans masculine person does not want to be reminded they were (once) sweet, it irritates beyond belief when their chosen name and pronouns aren’t used. I imagine trans women feel the same way. SO much in a name when you look like a Mary and folks insist on calling you Mark. I see myself as a male and Janis is not a male name. If you were a Sargent in the army would you like it when people insisted on calling you Private? This is not meant to be controversial. Am simply trying to show people just HOW IMPORTANT a name is.


  2. pkcapaldo says:

    I think part of the power of your blog is informing and instructing people in the ways and the psyche of the transgender life. This is new to a lot of us and, though we want to be sensitive and supportive, sometimes we don’t know how. Thanks for being my teacher.


  3. Fredrication says:

    It drives me mad to have people dead calling me. I never really know how to react, I mean they call for a person that don’t exist anymore. Should I answer to that just to ease their discomfort? What about my comfort then? I can’t wait to start hormone treatment so people will see how ridiculous it is to call me a girls name!
    By the way, Janis would be seen as a more male name than a female name here (I know it doesn’t help though, just a fun fact). Take care Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

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