Today I ask you to break an old habit.
The biggest pain in the ass about coming out of the closet is that one never runs out of those willing to reminisce about the good old days when you were still in it. “Let me get the door for you,” they say, with a twinkle in the eye and a hand between the shoulders ready to shove you back inside. Such people are fortunately relatively few and far between–the proverbial squeaky wheels not easily ignored–but the task of breaking free never ends.
Part of that process for me is recognition that language is gender binary even if I am not. Half a dozen years ago, I came to you thoroughly battered, paralyzed by fear of still greater loss than I had already suffered. You asked what you should call me and I told you it didn’t matter. I have spent the last several years learning the degree to which I was mistaken.
By retaining to my birth name, I taught you that it was ok to not to re-think my identity–to see me as a regular guy with an bizarre sense of fashion. You were frustrated by mixed messages, and I cringed at becoming the reincarnation of Corporal Klinger, an affable clown in fashionable shoes.
My name is Renae Madison Gage. Renée is French for “born again”. I have chosen what I hope to be the easier spelling. Madison was chosen for rhythm and vibe. I don’t mind sharing a name with a half fish, but I regret losing the middle name tribute to my grandpa, William.
Political independents generally caucus with one party or another. I hope the metaphor will be instructive. I am Renae–reborn. I’m stuck between the poles of gender and it’s not always easy to see where I fit in the continuum, but I caucus with women. She. Her.
Finally, I’m pretty sure we’re going to mess this up for awhile. It’s ok. We’ll learn together. Gawker slowdown. Awkward pronouns. That’s the way it goes.