I was born and named Steven. Up until I talked on the phone with another transgender woman, I had never heard a voice call me Stephie; I only had seen it online in chat. For almost 60 years of my life I was called Steve. Only on July 10 did I here someone say Stephie to me in person. It was my therapist who became my gender therapist as well. My girlfriend has yet to call me Stephie. The best she is willing to do is to use the diminutive, Stevie, which is okay for now.
So, what’s so upsetting about being call Steve? I don’t feel like Steve, and I don’t think I am Steve for starters. I am Stephie. To hear someone call me Steve feels totally off. I hear it, and I have an immediate dislike of the situation. So, what’s in a name? Why should I feel so off when called Steve? It is hard to described accurately. A name is an identifier. It labels. Ordinarily, I would not want to be equal to a label. I am more than anyone label. I am a transgender woman, but I am so much more than that. With my name, it labels the whole me. All the parts of me. The transgender woman, the writer, the friend, the mentor, someone who has type 2 diabetes, and somebody who is basically happy and would not trade her life for anyone else’s. Can you see how off it is to hear someone call me Steve, and how right it feels when someone calls me Stephie.
Some might ask why I chose Stephie instead of Stephanie? When I was younger my parents once said that if I was a girl they would have name me Stephanie. But, I feel like a playful gurl sometimes, and I think Stephie fits in better with that trait of mine. Stephanie seems to formal. I have some online gurlfriends who will call me Steph occasionally, which I don’t mind because they use it in an affectionate way. So, I am Stephie, and Stephie is me.
For those that know that I am out it will take time for them to make the switch from Steve to Stephie, and I understand that. This will help at a program I go to and am socially coming out at for the first time. But, I look forward to the day when everyone calls me Stephie there and everywhere. At some point in the future I will change my name legally to Stephie. I am not sure when is the best timing for this, but it will be at least as far into the future as the time of living (presenting) as a woman 24/7/365.
There is something connected to this name thing. It is being called sir. I feel like I literally cringe when I am called sir, like at a store. It is worse than being called Steve. At least they know me and it is easier to let it pass.
Finally, there are the pronouns. She/her/hers are my chosen ones. This seem a little less concerning because nobody would call me male pronouns to my face. The only way I would know is if I overheard people talking about me. If it did happen I would feel uncomfortable. Just that anyone would be talking about me is disconcerting enough, but hearing myself referred to with wrong gender pronouns would just makes it feel a notch more difficult to hear.
I will end by asking you to please just call me Stephie; I hear Stephie, and I am happy.