Photo of a hand in front of a sunlight wall, seemingly reaching for the shadowed hand their fleshy hand casts.

‘They’re playing with a corpse of our deadname’ by Ginny N.

TW/CW: discussions of breasts, physical disability, body dysphoria, turpism.

1. Non-intimate gestures of intimacy

We’re not close friends; we were never very close even when we wrote to each other almost every day. We didn’t argue either. We just drifted apart, the way this so often happens. We may meet now and then, if life happens to align this way, be friendly towards each other, spend time like satellites around mutual friends. But that’s it. And yet this memory comes back to us so often.

Your hand holding our hand – not in a romantic way, not in an intimate way. It was just a touch, our hands sweaty because the day was hot as hell. Just a gesture of reassurance – you were kind of like a mom friend to the whole group. That touch was good. Nice. Neither we nor you expected anything to come out of it and that was the important thing. We were just a couple of friends in a group of friends in a colorful crowd, enjoying the day.

That time was unlike any other time we held people’s hands – no consent, clamminess, feeling we don’t want it. We don’t have the need to hold hands with people – for whatever reason – but sometimes, maybe, it can be good. If circumstances are right. If it’s not normative bullshit with underlining expectations we won’t fulfil.

We don’t think much about intimacy. Our body just is. Hugs are nice, we know that. We don’t need much more than that, we guess. Sometimes we miss something more, in a non-romantic way, but mostly we’re fine. Maybe that’s why this gesture from a few years back comes to us again and again – something unexpected and nice, done so naturally. 

But yes, our body just is. More or less. And we are this body.

2. Is this what body dysphoria is?

A long time ago we told ourselves we don’t want surgeries anymore. We had three and that’s enough. Our leg is ugly, an ill, but we don’t want to stay closed in the flat for months without those bits of independence we treasure so much. But maybe we do want another surgery. Different kind though. 

We joked in the last few months, maybe even a year, that if we have dysphoria, our leg dysphoria is the strongest one. And yet our stance on making it better stands. And, also, we don’t think this is entirely true. We don’t hate our body, even if some of its parts are not very good for us. We may not be happy about our leg but we still don’t want to have surgery because we know it’s not just an easy fix. It’s complex, painful and may not work, and probably won’t make all the ugliness gone. So we get used to it. It’s just part of us. We don’t mind it that much.

Our breasts are more difficult. We began from the point of not minding them. And for the most part, we still don’t. And yet, since we figured out we’re nonbinary, we’ve wanted to have a binder. Just having one made us feel better. We don’t wear it every day, we don’t even wear it that often and there are times we even forget about it. But we don’t like to look at our breasts – clothed or not, we’d prefer to see a flat chest. And we do love the feeling we have when we wear our binder. We love the idea of people seeing us flat chested. But we’re also afraid that if our breasts are gone, we will feel physically uncomfortable about their lack.

Do we need top surgery, then? We won’t suffer greatly if we don’t have it. We’d like a flat chest but this surgery costs a lot. There are people who know they have body dysphoria. They know. We… We still don’t know what to call these things we feel. There is some slight discomfort there. But it’s not much more. Maybe we just wish there was a better binder – one you could wear all day but also take off if you felt like it. 

Then we wouldn’t have to think about our body too much. And we wouldn’t have to think about ways it presents itself to the world.

3. No gender in this house

They say it’s valid to not present androgynously when you’re enby and that’s true. But we do want to look this way and it makes us feel guilty. We work to look more masculine so that people won’t take us for a woman at first glance – this sometimes works. They call us mister and it gives us gender euphoria. We’re not a man, but it’s just good not to be seen as that other binary choice, if people do have to see us as one or the other.

So we don’t have a gender and we do want to tell you this – wanting to look androgynous is as valid as not wanting it. We wish more people were saying this to us and to other enby people. We are conscious that androgynous white afabs are some of the only nonbinary representation. We are privileged. But we shouldn’t feel guilty when we strive for this look. 

Maybe it would be better if we were just a body with a name but we like our body and we like playing with how it looks.

4. They’re playing with a corpse of our deadname

Is it really dead then? When Pratchett said, ‘you’re alive as long as people still speak your name’, he probably didn’t mean that. And yet, and yet. Those of us who get at least semi-famous will get a ‘previously known as’ with their biographies, as if the name they hoped to be forgotten, buried in an unmarked grave, is mocking their existence forever. Visible for people who won’t even glance a second time, who won’t think ‘this is wrong, nobody should have to look at that.’

There won’t be anybody scraping our deadname from online spaces and old documents, even after we legally changed our name. ‘Just forget this person ever existed!’ we scream in our head, when they play with our deadname, prodding it, seeing if it’ll react in any way, not understanding what ‘dead’ means. Why don’t they see that it died a long time ago?

And the worst part is – it does react. It sits inside us, buried deep within, like a singularity inside a black hole. We hope so strongly it won’t come out beyond the horizon of our body, never giving back information about itself to the world. But we hear it spoken and we jerk up our head. We see it on TV, in a book or in a musician’s name – and it pinches us painfully, reminding us it’s still inside us. Rotting, half-dead, never fully gone. Ugly bones of our deadname, for so many: more visible than we ever were.

Photo of a hand in front of a sunlight wall, seemingly reaching for the shadowed hand their fleshy hand casts.

About the author

Ginny N. (they/them, we/us, he/him) – an aroace agender boy, writer and essayist from Poland. He was published in AZE Journal, #EnbyLife and he has pieces in a number of upcoming Polish publications. At the moment they are writing Nieskończoności, a series of short stories set in Uniwersum Kasandry, about group of queer anarchist misfits who’d like to have some fun in life. You’ll find Nieskończoności on Ginny’s Itch.io page. You can also follow him on Twitter @ripplesofcosmos.

Photo by Sirisvisual on Unsplash.

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