I've spent the past few weeks thinking about my identity and who I am. In many ways I'm a hybrid. I'm a Quebecker and an Ontarian. I'm bilingual. I'm ambidextrous. I'm queer. I'm a social democrat.
Those identities are all very important to me. But they're all really complex and complicated. Often, they are identities that are invisible to others. Sometimes because it's not something I wish to bring up; sometimes it's just a matter of convenience. But there's one identity that gets blown by every time because of its sheer simplicity: my name.
It's been ten years now, fully a decade, since I decided to start going by James.
It was August 2004. A life transition awaited me regardless of what I did. It wasn't a decision that I took lighly. I spent the last two years of high school waiting so that when I went away to university in the fall of 2004 I could have a clean slate.
Of course, things didn't go according to plan. I moved to Waterloo from Kitchener, and my old life stayed close by my side, the two mixing like a venn diagramme with me in the middle. I was now James. I was still Scott.
At the time, I didn't worry because I figured it wouldn't take long before everyone would call me by my name. After a few years, I kind of just gave up. I had tried, and then I decided to live a life where half the people around me called me Scott and the other half James. Unsure, in some measure, of who I really was.
I've just always felt imposing - or at the very least awkward - when I explained how I wanted to be addressed. Some people have been a lot more sympathetic than others. And I get - I really do. I didn't feel self-assured about it initially and I let people tell me how I should feel instead of confidently reminding them that I know who I am.
Somehow I let other people continue to define me when it really should be up to me. I understand that you are used to seeing me in a certain way, but I'm politely asking you to consider how I would prefer to be acknowledged.
This summer I've come to the conclusion that I want to be called James - by everyone. I'll hopefully have a chat with everyone about this. If you're uncomfortable let me know. I really understand - just try to remember that I'm only seeking to be validated. All I really want is a respectful dialogue. In fact, I deserve one, don't I?