What’s in a Name

Photo courtesy of Cyrsti Hart

Often as we go through the stages of a transgender transition, our names go down a similar path.

It’s very interesting how we choose our feminine names. My example is my first name I used was Karen. She sat next to me in study hall in junior (middle) school. When I transferred to a much bigger school, I developed crushes on many more girls. Too many to “borrow” their names. 

It’s likely the biggest mistake with feminine names I made was when I first started to seriously come out of my closet. I made a habit of naming myself after a persona I created. For example, Roxy was much more flamboyant than Darcy. I learned the hard way all I was doing was confusing the people I met along the way. They were trying to call me by one name when I was attempting to use another. Fortunately I learned to dress to blend and settled in on one name. For awhile. Actually for a long while. 

Shortly before I began to write the blog (ten years ago) I changed my name to Cyrsti. It’s pronounced Cristy. I changed the spelling to reflect how a light is redirected when it goes through a crystal. I used the name for years and years until I came out as transgender to my daughter. She accepted me totally except for my name. She was concerned what the three grandkids would call me.

At that point in time, I went back to the name drawing board and came up with a solution. I would rename myself after family figures I looked up to and make it my legal name. I chose Jessie as my first name after my maternal grandfather and Jeanne as my middle name, from my Mom. The kids could just call me JJ.

Then I ran into problems with what I should do with the blog. By that time I already had millions of hits thanks to you all. So I decided to leave it alone and use Cyrsti as sort of a pen name. 

It would be easy if the story ended there but it didn’t. 

I write on several different platforms. Blogger, WordPress and Medium. I wish I could tell you all my posts are original to each platform but they are not. I just can’t generate that much content. So, Blogger and WordPress are under my Cyrsti pen name and Medium is under my legal name of JJ. 

So if you see me on other platforms, that’s the reason for the name confusion!

Rest in Power

 A true transgender pioneer, activist and blogger has passed away. Recently the body of Monica Roberts was found in the parking lot of an apartment complex.

She passed from an unspecified “medical emergency” according to a Houston police statement. 

Roberts (above) a native of Houston, launched her award-winning TransGriot blog in 2006 as a forum for transgender people of color. It became one of the first blogs to identify transgender homicide victims using their correct gender identity and names. Last year, Roberts told The Daily Beast that she took on the task because “I got tired of them being disrespected in death.”

I remember ten years ago when I first began blogging, Monica Roberts was already an established transgender person of color in the field. 

She will be missed. Rest in Power!

What Choice?

Every so often, I will happen upon a post when someone else thinks transgender women or trans men actually had a choice in the unique direction our lives have taken us. 

I wondered yesterday where my choices were as I waited for a mammogram. Over the years too. I wondered how I ever chose an existence which led to ridicule and rejection. After tons of introspection, I finally came to conclusion none of this was my fault, somehow I was born into being transgender. Then, as I researched further, I found our trans tribe has been around since the ancient  times and actually was looked up as being special by many native civilizations.  

Personally,  I happened upon a study of a hormonal therapy for at risk expectant mothers prescribed in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. There was some sort of an idea the extra estrogen the medication put in the womb could have resulted in transgender babies. The reason I cared at all is I was born in 1949 and my Mom was an extremely high risk Mother. It all never really mattered though because she passed away and I could never connect the dots anyway.

If I had a choice at all, it would be to have back all the years and time I wasted hiding, scheming, lying and running from myself. If I had a choice I would take back all the passive and active suicide attempts I tried. 

It would have been interesting which direction my life would have taken…if I had a choice.   

A Decade

It turns out I have been writing Cyrsti’s Condo for a decade now. On certain days, it seems like yesterday when Connie encouraged to start writing a blog on others it seems as if it was a century ago. At any rate, after I figured out what a blog really was I am nearing six thousand posts today. 
After extensive searching, I found a post from 2010:

“Saturday, May 29, 2010

You make a better looking woman!

You’ve probably heard the comment.
Unless you are like the recent “Tyra Show”guests. I’m referring to the 7 and 8 year old transgender kids who are living in their preferred gender. You’ve likely agonized over the duality within you. .When I played defensive end, I wanted to be the cheerleader…you know the story.
My experimentation with the opposite gender didn’t really start until I was about 12. The magic elixir of seeing a girl in the mirror was powerful.  I’ve often wondered if some chemical endorphin in my brain is the catalyst for the creature I am today.

And what about the comments that I made a” better looking woman than man”?  (Halloween party gossip) Comments such as those used to destroy me! How could I even consider stopping this shameful “hobby”? Where was my “get out of jail free” card to end this madness?
Obviously, I didn’t stop. In my mind there is nothing more powerful than a beautiful woman so I listened to the comments and obsessed to get better.  Better I did become.

The world knew me as one gender or the other and for the most part I went out of my way to create two existences.  Chance encounters with people who knew the male side of me never produced any recognition. Life was balanced.
Until New Years day this year.
Symbolically, I started the year and decade as Cyrsti for the first time ever. Checked into the hotel as a girl, went to the clubs with friends and left the next morning in girl clothes. On the way home, I changed into my favorite teams jersey (filled it out a little different!) and stopped and watched the first of the bowl  games.

On the way home, I was totally into girl mode when impulsively I stopped at my regular grocery store to pick up a couple things. On New Years Day I figured none of the regular cashiers would be working.  If they were, they wouldn’t know me anyhow.  Wrong, wrong and WRONG! Both of the regular cashiers were working.
Of course one of them picked me out of the crowd immediately. I knew it and she knew it…she thought. I bought my groceries and took off.

I went back the next day to see if I was right.  It took her about ten seconds to start asking questions since I was alone in line.
She said “I know how you will answer” but “do you have an alter ego” or did I lose a bet.
I was naturally evasive as I considered “outing” myself and just said I was at my brothers watching football.
I did not out myself to her so she got bored and  wrapped it all up with “Who ever it was was very attractive and really looked like you”.

Nearly three days later I ended up in the other cashier’s line. Following a similar Q & A, she just said “if you ever had to go that way, you would have no problems, she was beautiful.”
Not my ideal way to go fishing for compliments.
Fortunately, my gender balance wasn’t too difficult to restore.  Many around me know of my duality and I don’t care.
I did spend some time considering the old questions about how challenging it is to live life this way.
But you know I wouldn’t miss another shot of that “magical elixir.” Life would be soooo much more boring!”

There you go. Obviously I was better looking a decade ago! I even found pictures from 2010.

With a Little Help from my Friends

Recently, Mmarsha has been writing in with comments to a Cyrsti’s Condo post from 2018. The post was called “Sink or Swim” Without going to deep into the post, it revolved around a lonely forlorn transgender woman who was coming to the support group meetings. Then Connie added her comments in also, providing other fascinating looks into life under the “transgender umbrella” which often leaks badly.

Here is one of Mmarsha’s comments: “Is it possible that we are all a little different in our sexuality no matter how much we think we are like somebody else or think they are like us. In other words you just have to be you and you probably will change over time some people a little more than others. Lets celebrate our diversity and make that our strength. xoxox Mmarsha” 

For sure our sexuality is on a spectrum as broad as human existence itself. As far as my own sexuality is concerned, I experimented briefly with men before I just happened to land firmly into a group of lesbians. One of which I am still with after eight years. Even though my experimentation only went as far as heavy kissing, I often wonder what would have happened if I had ever been more deeply involved with a guy. I’m biased of course but I still feel more men could benefit from the companionship of a transgender woman. For the most part because we have been on their side of the gender fence and can understand their needs more completely. But again, that is just me.

As far as celebrating our diversity, it seems sometimes the Washington administration is trying to make it as difficult as possible to do, although in many local situations trans women and men seemingly are making strides. 

Connie’s ideas as always reflected a little different look at the situation: “So much has changed in the trans community since the original post. Acceptance of diversity is not just something we are expecting from the general society, it is also expected of trans people toward each other more than it was before. Especially when considering Non-binary gender expression, things have moved far beyond the relatively simple concept of “Transer Than Thou” attitude that many of us fought in the past. Although I consider myself to be, strictly, a Binary Trans Woman, I often have to remind myself that being so is not the ultimate goal of many other trans women. I keep learning that it’s not my job to “fix” anyone else, but I’m happy to give advice, when it’s asked of me. I think that I still carry a bit of internalized transphobia, and, if anything or anyone needs “fixing,” it’s me.”

Finally, Mmarsha and I discussed the idea of how difficult it is to initially come out at all: “Yes your right just get out and do it. I am just so intimidated by the prospect of coming out. Some days I don’t want to some days it seems if the right chain of events took place it would happen.”

It’s a huge topic and one which begs for it’s own blog post. 

If you would like to see all the comments, go here. As always, thanks for the comments!