Hi, I’m John.
Hi, I’m also Lana.
Hi, it’s nothing to do with you.
My parents – my dad, especially – picked the name ‘Lana’ for me after a song of the same name. And guess what? I love that name! It’s my name, just like John is my name! Crazy!
I haven’t always loved it recently, but I’ve been trying to figure out my identity and what I’m comfortable/uncomfortable with for over a year now and I have a lot to say. You might go into this not understanding, ready to mock, and you’ll either finish it the same way or you’ll actually be decent enough to stop being ignorant for five minutes. This post is to vent, to get my thoughts across, to have it all out in the open so I can move on, and to maybe encourage others who go through a similar thing. It’s also to shut down ignorant transphobes. Happy reading!
One thing I’m absolutely sick of is people coming for me whenever I so much as dare to experiment with my own name, my own labels, my own damn self. I’m the only one who gets to decide who I am and how I express it, and the fact that some ignorant people have the audacity and nerve to try and call me out for literally nothing is frankly embarrassing. It’s also infuriating when it’s something they can’t relate to personally. How dare I try and figure out what makes me happy, right? How fucking dare I. I even had one person try to blackmail me with my birthname back when I was still uncomfortable with it and trying to keep it from being public knowledge again. Sick.
When I was first coming to terms with being non-binary, I had a hard time getting my gender identity and my birth name to gel. It gave me so much dysphoria and I kept doubting myself, letting outside influences whisper to my anxiety that “maybe I’m not really non-binary” because I wasn’t having the same experience I’d seen so many other people talk about. It was naive to think I would, and now I realise that not every trans person has the same relationship with their names or their labels.
At the start, I switched out my first name and started requesting people call me ‘Lou’ (short for Louise, one of my middle names) to see if that made any difference to my comfort – you might remember this if you followed me on Twitter back then. After a while I just grew bored of it, it wasn’t quite what I wanted, it was a bit stale.
So I thought about the main nickname I had, the name my partner had called me since before we even met in person for the first time: ‘John’. It was a name I’d already been comfortable with for years at that point (the years spent with my partner) so it seemed like a logical and easy choice to ask people to call me that instead. It was sentimental to me and a year later, it’s still a name that feels like mine. It’s the cherry on top of the cake.
Here’s where my self-doubt starts creeping back in: I still love ‘Lana’, too. I still love when it comes from my family’s mouths, I still feel happy knowing my dad chose it and why, and to my great relief it’s now a name that sits happily along side my non-binary identity. I used to think, “well, if you’re happy with your birth name, you can’t possibly be trans” and that’s simply not true, and it’s so, so ridiculous to think that at all in hindsight. A name is just another label, and more than one name can fit with how someone feels. Easy, simple, and not something a stranger needs to get their knickers in a twist over.
‘John’ is how I introduce myself online. John is a beloved nickname. John is what my partner, best friend, and close friends call me. John carries sentiment from my relationship, it’s personal to me, therefore it is my name. I’m not interested in getting it changed by deed poll, either. Deed poll literally doesn’t mean anything to me.
‘Lana’ is how my family know me, how my dad knew me. Lana carries sentiment from the parent who is my idol, it’s personal to me, therefore it is my name. I still have fond memories of hearing my dad say my name, how it sounded in his voice, and that’s something I love with the whole of my heart. This name is the core of my being.
You will call me the former and not the latter because that’s my preference so that’s what you should do whether you like it or not (because news flash, it’s not about YOU) but it does not change the fact that I’m comfortable with both, and that both belong to me.
My family are aware that everyone calls me John, but I’m not out as NB (I am out as queer though). Lucky for me (but not for everyone, which sucks) I’m happy with both names anyway as my birth name no longer gives me the dysphoria and confusion it once did. I’ve dropped casual hints that gender doesn’t really mean anything to me, and if I’m honest, I no longer care about coming out the way I once did. My gender is my business. Simple as.
It bothers me that people think they have more power over my identity than I do, when I get messages trying to knock me down for the names I use or my freedom to express. I mentioned that I’d picked a new middle name of ‘Hope’ for myself along with my birth ones of ‘Louise’ and ‘May’ and a few people jumped on it, which is bizarre to me because at least all my actual names make me feel empowered instead of an anonymous title. (For curious people, Hope means exactly what you think it does. I’ve been through a lot of shit and it feels fitting. I like it a lot. It’s very Me.)
You have the right to choose names that make you happy. You have the right to play around to see what fits. You have the right to be who you are and not answer to anyone. You have the right to the same happiness and comfort in yourself as everyone else. Nobody has the right to berate or mock you for trying to be happy in your own skin. You can change your mind every day if you want and it’s still nobody’s business but yours. It’s not your problem that other people are too ignorant to care to understand.
I’m not going to waste my time feeling fake and ashamed and “not really non-binary” for loving my beautiful names when I could spend that time loving myself instead, and you bet I’m definitely going to continue laughing at morons who think it’s anything to do with them. I know for a fact I’m not the only one who will feel like this about names, so you’re not on your own if you go through something similar to this too. We’re still valid.
I’m John, and I’m Lana, and I’m fucking unapologetic about that.