On Thursday of this week I mark two years as Yenn. On 11 February 2019 I went to work. As I typed some worky something I thought ‘Yenne’ and wrote it down. ‘No’, I thought. I then wrote down ‘Yenn’ and I knew then that it was correct. I had found the name which best reflected my me. It was a good thing indeed.
There is some background to this. In 2018 I came out as non-binary. I viewed this as a massive liberation and one of the most important things which had ever happened to me. My dead name (name prior to transition for those who don’t already know) was very suggestive of the feminine and it didn’t suit me. Not only did it not suit me as an out non-binary person, I had never liked it. It felt like a winter coat that didn’t fit properly and felt uncomfortable but it was the only coat I had so I needed to keep wearing it. When I came out my name was on my list of things that needed addressing. I tried to find a name consciously but never managed to come up with anything that worked. A name is a pretty important part of your identity so it needed to be right. I decided to leave my name to my subconscious. Yay to my subconscious for coming up with such a good name! I LOVE Yenn. It is so me. It also gets shortened to Yennski which I love. I have a wonderful colleague at work who calls me ‘comrade Yennski’ which always makes me smile – especially as we work in Government administration! My subconscious might have come up with Yenn but my conscious mind has unpacked it, so here goes… To yen is poetic speak for yearning and I am a big fan of self reflection (just look at my blog posts!!). Yenn is also a nod to my dead name as it has an ‘e’ and two ’n’s so it is a link to my past and Yenn is not really a gendered name, at least in Australia.
It took me a while to get used to my name. I had a book launch event the day after I changed my name. I was in conversation with the awesome Graeme Simsion to launch his book The Rosie Result. It was at a bookshop so there were staff and guests everywhere. I heard a laugh behind me. It was Graeme who thought it was highly amusing that I was so new to my name that I didn’t look around when he called me Yenn!! In fact I was the worst culprit for dead naming and misgendering myself for some months! Apparently this is common with some trans people as we have known ourself as our assigned gender at birth and our dead name longer than anyone so it can take a while to get used to our new name and pronouns.
I have learned a few things since I came out. One thing another trans friend said to me was that I would learn who my friends were – and weren’t – when I came out. This was 100 per cent true. Some pope surprised me by their acceptance and others surprised me with their bigotry. I didn’t lose a lot of social media followers but I lost some people I would have hoped would know better, including a friend from high school who I had known since 1987. That was hurtful. I also had someone give me a hard time online and then several months later give me a genuine apology, presumably after reflection and consideration.
I find that every time I post something about gender diversity and being non-binary I get at least one troll. This saddens me. I talk about my criminal history and nobody trolls or blames me about that even though it is shameful but when I talk about gender diversity which is not at all shameful and is in fact something to celebrate, some sad troll dishes out a bunch of nasty bigotry.
One of the nicest things about being non-binary is that I have a profile as an autistic non-binary person. I have met so many autistic and trans young people – and not so young people – who find that me being so out loud and proud in the public domain helps them on their own journeys. I remember meeting a friend’s child who is non-binary and my friend said to them ‘Yenn uses they them pronouns too’ and this kid’s face just lit up. It was wonderful.
I am very confident in my identity. I am genuinely proud. I was talking with my dad the other day. My parents are lovely but they were brought up in a conservative church so I had never really talked about my own gender identity with them in case they had some reservations. I thought that if there were any issues it would damage our relationship. They never seemed bigoted but I didn’t want to find out the hard way! So the other day I was talking about my gender identity with my dad and he was just so beautiful and respectful. He said one thing I will always remember which was that he saw me as being visibly happier since I came out and that I was more ‘me.’ So big thank you to my dad.
People ask me ‘where does your name come from?’ And I answer that I created it. So happy 2 year Yenniversary to me. And as an amusing last note, I often wonder if in the future there will be any kids of autistic parents – or any parents for that matter – who get called Yenn. That would be extremely cool!