Sunday 24 July 2011

Femme names.

My own femme name is Jennifer. Say it fast and mumbly and it sounds sort of like Jonathan. Previously I called myself Joanna – a partial anagram of Jonathan – but I never really felt like a Joanna, so I changed it.

I should explain that in this context "femme" has a different meaning to the one I am mostly applying in this blog. For male TVs a femme name has nothing to do with "femme". It's simply a female name; a name we use when we're in "feminine" mode, possibly in drag, or possibly just in company with other TVs, or other trans people, or friends, or whoever, either in person or online. A femme name, usually accompanied by female pronouns, acknowledges a certain femininity, whether outwardly expressed or inwardly asserted.

Often this feminine expression is temporary and alternates with a masculine "Bob" mode, indicating a bi-gendered identity. In other words, a person senses their own gender to be both feminine and masculine, and may express this in different ways at different times, perhaps in drag and perhaps in drab. The Manchester-based trans support group The Northern Concord used to (and probably still does) issue membership cards "for the both of you", reflecting this dual gendered nature.

In my case, however, there aren't two of me. That is to say, I'm uni-gendered not bi-gendered, and that single unigender is male. So why do I have a femme name at all? Why do I, for example, sign up for trans-related and butch/femme forums as "jenalex" and mostly post as and respond to "Jen"?

The reason is one of inclusiveness. I've always been bothered that signing up and posting as Jonathan (as male) would be to place myself outside the MTF community, whereas I see myself as part of it. Or at least as coming from it. Even if I no longer regard my own "F" as actually female at all, but as a valid and integral part of "M", of male. Which means I'm not really MTF after all. Or at least I have a slightly unusual and personal interpretation of it. Or...

Okay, I'm rambling now.

As it happens, I've just signed up to a new local trans network as Jonathan. So maybe I'll make Jonathan my new femme name. Mmmm, degendering names, regendering names.

Sure, why not? :)