They/Them, Name/Same

I couldn’t walk today or yesterday. It’s been snowing. Yesterday, the wind was so bad, Hannah’s car door nearly pulled off the hinges. We heard a horrible “snap” sound as the wind whipped it open. I thought the door was going to rip off and go flying into the air. Thankfully, all was well in the post office parking lot. You’d be surprised just how windy it gets here. It’s insane really.

Other than bringing my car into the shop yesterday, I slept most of the day. I hate admitting that because I was once an industrious, busy little beaver. Once upon a time. I guess I’m no longer an artist. I haven’t made anything in a long time, and I’m so disappointed in myself. 

The excuses abound. And they are not even funny: My hands are numb because I’m too cold; I’m having hot flashes so I’m too hot; I’m dead tired and entirely too sore. I think what I want to make is stupid, or I’ve changed my mind about what I want to create. I think I shouldn’t make it, or should make something different. Maybe the passion is gone, or I feel like I don’t have time to finish it before leaving. Why start it if I can’t finish it?

The list of these thoughts goes on and on.

What’s wrong with me? I’ve not been a procrastinator in the past, and I’ve not been a lazy person before, but I suppose times have changed. Can I blame it all on exhaustion? Irritability? I’m still motivated to walk at 5:30 AM (if it’s not snowing), and I always show up to physical therapy. Those are not things I find exciting either. They’re pretty much chores.

Walking can be pleasant, depending. But truthfully, some parts are brutal. I keep trying to pay attention to the present moment and my beautiful surroundings, but it’s not easy to do while walking up steep hills. The physical pain is super distracting. I only want to get to the top of the hill so I can enjoy the rest of the walk.

So surgery is less than two weeks away. It’s all can I think about. We leave in eleven days. I’ve spent a lot of time on various online forums specific to LGBTQ+ nonbinary people: people who have had top surgery or are getting top surgery. There are people who talk about coming out, their experiences about being trans, and even trans people who are trying to lose weight. You name it, I’ve been participating in these groups. 

Most of the people in these groups are not much older than twenty-five. One forum/chat I belong to, where people are over fifty, are mostly trans women. It seems like trans people like me are of the younger generation. Maybe that’s not true, but that’s what I see. I feel like I don’t belong. 

At the same time, it’s refreshing and inspiring. This new generation seems free to be themselves. Families seem accepting and supportive. They even seem to know what nonbinary means. What gender fluid means. How? I don’t know. Maybe they know how to use Google. 

I have no real problem explaining it to friends. Well, maybe that’s not true. It is a little annoying. Not to sound like an asshole, but it’s hard to know if I’m just a thing of fascination a lot of the time. But that’s not my problem. It’s theirs. However, most of my friends are not twenty-something. Maybe that’s why they have a harder time getting it. 

I think what might bother me most is the question, “Why?” I’m sure it’s a perfectly normal question for people, but has anyone ever asked you (if you’re cis), “why are you a girl?” “Why do you feel like a man?” 

It can be insulting. I’ve heard, “…so you don’t like being a girl? Does that mean you rather be a man?” It’s so one or the other in a lot of people’s minds. Does being nonbinary mean I can’t like pink? I can’t be a feminist? I can’t wear a dress? I can’t have a “men’s” haircut or play with trucks? 

Maybe saying I’m genderqueer was a better description for other people to understand? Although, people asked me what that meant too. And kind of surprisingly, a lot of queer people asked me this question. Being queer doesn’t mean you automatically understand anything though. 

More than one of my gay friends told me I would probably regret getting my surgery because it wasn’t going to fix anything. While holding back tears, I had to explain what gender dysphoria was. They really didn’t know. So maybe this line of questioning isn’t so insulting as it is triggering when the person asking you is so thoroughly uneducated. 

Would a person ask the same thing of a person of color, or a person with disabilities?

“Just help me understand, what’s it like to be a (______<fill in the blank here) person? I don’t know anything about it. Oh, by the way, is it okay if I ask questions?”

Yet this is the line of questioning I continuously get, pretty much verbatim. Almost every time I’ve come out to anyone one on one. It only makes me not want to do it anymore. 

Then there’s my name. If I ever wanted to change it, that seems next to impossible. I’m not saying I want to do it, but forget it, right? Not in the landscape I’m used to living in.  

I’ve never really liked my name, Carol. But only because of how I think others perceive it. Isn’t Carol considered feminine, like the name of a 1950s homemaker with an updo? I’m pretty sure it is.

But Carol really is an androgynous name because some males have spelled it the same way. However, no females have spelled it, Carroll. That’s strictly male. Though, that spelling has more respect because it’s male. The world sucks like that.

Another main reluctance in changing my name is because I’m “Carol Es,” the artist. I’ve always been Carol Es. I’ve worked very long and hard to make that name stick as my presence and identity in the arts. Not that I’m famous or anything, but I feel like I’d have to start from the bottom up, all over again in my fifties.

My initials would no longer be CE, and I like those initials. I even like being a “C.” My Artist book press, Careless Press would no longer mean anything. All my paintings signed Carol Es, or “C. Es” would mean nothing. Would they become worthless?  

The truth is, I like the name Adin, but I don’t know if I could ever get used to people calling me that, or if I could get used to not being Carol. My whole identity is Carol. I’m not saying I’m changing my name to Adin. I’ve just been bouncing it around in my head. I’m definitely a “they/them,” and that is settled, but I can’t even get people to stop calling me: she, her, woman, ma’am, lady, girl, girlie, chick, mama, queen, aunt, sister, etc.

It would be great to be famous like Elliot Page. All he had to do was announce it once on his social media platforms, and that was that. From there, the Hollywood Reporter took off with it, and it went viral. Now, everyone calls him Elliot. Period. People refer to him as “he/him” or “they/them.” Respect. His Wikipedia page was changed from “she/her” to “he/him,” and bam, done deal.

My Wiki page will probably stay “she/her” forever. I’m not important enough for someone to change it, and you can’t change it yourself.

More reluctance is there’s another contemporary artist (a photographer) out there named Adi Nes, which is pretty close to Adin Es. Maybe you don’t think that’s too close, but that will be an issue in Google searches. He also owns the domain name I’d want. Maybe I’m being silly, but that stuff concerns me. I like being king of the Internet.

In the meantime, I’m still Carol Es, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

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6 thoughts on “They/Them, Name/Same

  1. Emily March 11, 2021 / 1:29 pm

    Carol is also a boys name. I went to school but he spelled it Carroll.

  2. Carol Es March 12, 2021 / 7:39 am

    Thanks Emily. Yes, that spelling is typically the male spelling (Carroll). There are very few males that spell it Carol. It is usual in Romania though, and there was once a famous British filmmaker named Carol Reed.

    • lindacbugg March 14, 2021 / 1:10 am

      That’s the exact Carol I was trying to think of, so thanks for saving me a Google search-lol.

      • Carol Es March 15, 2021 / 3:01 pm

        Thanks Linda. It took me forever to remember.

  3. cindyschnackel March 18, 2021 / 5:44 pm

    You’re not alone in being in a big art slump. Everything you’re going thru would make it difficult to just operate as normal. I know the feeling of a slump that won’t quit. I hope that your surgery goes well and that you soon resume making art!

    • Carol Es March 19, 2021 / 5:55 am

      Thanks Cindy. It is nice to know I’m not alone. And thank you for me being in your thoughts about my surgery. That means a lot to me. 🙂

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