Trans Call-In Radio
Episode 1: A Rose by Any Other Name Is Not to be [Dead Named].
Episode 1: A Rose by Any Other Name Is Not to be [Dead Named].
[Note: All Trans Call-In Episodes are adaptations of actual interchanges I’ve had with real, live persons. Go here to get the next episode!]
(Bethany): Welcome to Trans Call-In Radio, where I, Bethany Beeler, a trans person, field cis folks’ questions!
(Caller #1): Hi! First-time caller! Bethany, I just hafta to ask what happened to [dead name]?
(Bethany): I’ve not gone anywhere. Bethany is who I’ve always been. Everything you need to know about [dead name]is talking to you right now.
Now a message from our sponsor — Transbuprofen®, the pain-reliever for trans folk!
(Sponsor): Transbuprofen® brings you Real-Life TransPain Rescue #17! “Dead-naming” a trans person (i.e., using their old name, even as a reference to what you perceive to be a past self) is taking a trans’ person’s name in vain and trying to dehumanize us (though you can’t take away our humanity no matter how hard you try!).
Transbuprofen® recommends a dose of the first Matrix movie to grasp the power of claiming one’s own name, one’s own truth! (Try this 60-second clip.)
It takes paragraphs to unpack the baggage dumped on a trans person’s doorstep with such a question. So, Bethany, when you don’t have the time or energy to reply with paragraphs, give the answer you gave at the top of the show — yourself.
(Caller #2): Hi, Bethany! I get it when trans people like you celebrate your new-found selves, but, where does that leave [dead name]?
Mmm, you do not “get it” when you reduce us to a mere “celebration of our new-found selves.” I didn’t “find a new self” on a sale rack. Realizing myself as what I’ve always been “leaves” me empowered me to interact authentically with the world — the very ambition we wish for everyone. Why shouldn’t trans persons live that wish?
(Caller #2): I dunno. maybe ‘cuz [dead name] was (is?) a righteous dude?
Whatever is “righteous” about me is only more so now that I can fully live, in a way I never previously could. It’s like a cured wheelchair-bound person now running and leaping where previously they could only watch everyone else have that freedom. “I never knew you could be like this, Bethany!” is what you should say to me — because I, myself, never knew I could be like this until I came home to myself.
(Caller #3): Bethany, how do we mourn the passing of [dead name]? It seems not allowed, and that’s not doing justice to the rest of us.
(Bethany): It’s the opposite of mourning — it’s rejoicing that the old false self is dead but, more importantly, that I now truly live. The question ought to be “Why are you still mourning something that is my celebration?” Grieving this is as ersatz as mourning somebody who becomes “Sr.” when their child is born and given the same name. The new “Sr.” hasn’t ceased being but has a child who bears the vitality of their name that echoes joy! Lightning has struck twice! The second bolt doesn’t annihilate the first but emphasizes the first one’s true meaning by exceptionalizing the event, the person, the phenomenon, the love, by striking the same place.
It’s time now for Dr. Leson N. Humanity’s regular segment! This week: Why some cis people think someone’s died when a friend/loved one transitions. Take it away, Doc!
(Dr. Humanity): Bethany, a darkness lurks in queries about how to mourn a trans person’s dead identity and seek justice in the matter.
(Bethany): Yeah, Doc. Why does it have to be about cis people taken aback by who I am? Suddenly, not only am I responsible for bearing stigmatization, shame, ignorance, dehumanization, demonization, and hatred from self-proclaimed/but hardly living-the-talk Christians and other bigots, but now I have to bear the burden of providing y’all what YOU call “justice”?
(Dr. Humanity): Really, it’s a vain attempt to bring trans persons to heel (as in, “YOU, Bethany/trans person, mean a loss of control to ME, for which YOU must account/apologize”).
(Bethany): Galling, absurd, and narcissistic, don’t you think?
(Dr. Humanity): My short answer is this — It’s not about you, Cis person. It’s not even about me. It’s about ALL of us being loved, prized, and treasured without qualification or proviso.
Let’s move this question to higher ground by asking it in the most innocuous form, stripped of all baggage: “How am I supposed to react to you?”
The answer is Courtesy 101/Empathy 101/Humility 101/The Gospel 101/Love 101. For this is the question we must ask of every individual we meet — and, indeed, of our very selves. Its answer has been repeated by every wisdom teacher in human history (but practiced by almost none of us): “Love the other as yourself.”
(Bethany): Let me take it further, Doc. Instead of “How am I supposed to react to you?” ask the trans person, the person of color, the gay or lesbian, the poor person, the migrant, the stranger, the Fortune-500 business person — indeed, anyone, AND our very selves — this: “How do I be myself with you?”
The answer, of course, is to be yourself.
(Dr. Humanity): Exactly! Doing so welcomes and empowers the trans person, the person of color, the gay or lesbian, the poor person, the migrant, the stranger, the Fortune-500 business person — indeed, anyone, AND our very selves — to be their/our very selves. To be real.
For this is the question we must ask of every individual we meet — and, indeed, of our very selves. Its answer has been repeated by every wisdom teacher in human history (but practiced by almost none of us): “Love the other as yourself.”
(Bethany): Doc, why does something so intuitive need to be explained by two blather-mouths like you and me?
(Dr. Humanity): [sighing] It has to be explicated at length because we’re rooted in our prejudices, our urge to control, our fear of the stranger, our obsessive protection of our tribe/g-d/ideology. It takes paragraphs to unpack the baggage dumped on a trans person’s doorstep with such a question. So, Bethany, when you don’t have the time or energy to reply with paragraphs, give the answer you gave at the top of the show — yourself.
(Bethany): Thank you, Dr. Humanity! Before we wrap, I leave listeners with this closing word. Either you’ll have us, or you won’t. Either you’ll be sheep or goat. In the end, I and other trans persons are neither your g-d nor judge. But we’re also not anybody’s whippin’ post or baggage dump. You get us, or, fuck you if you don’t. The “me/myself/I” is all that many folks need, but, sadly, the “fuck you” is the only thing that some other people can grasp. Hopefully — and I ascribe this to you, dear listener — you’re in the camp of the former!
Either you’ll have us, or you won’t. Either you’ll be sheep or goat. In the end, I and other trans persons are neither your g-d nor judge. But we’re also not anybody’s whippin’ post or baggage dump. You get us, or, fuck you if you don’t.
That’s it! Join us next week for another round of scintillating cis interrogations of trans folk on Trans Call-In Radio. Next time, “Why Do Trans People Have to Be So Over-the-Top?”
If you enjoyed this piece, hold down the*clap* or *applaud* button (you can clap up to 50 times, you know). 👏👏👏
Please use the Facebook and Twitter *share* links, and help me spread the love. 💗
I’m also a published novelist and painter. You can help by following me on Social Media so I can reach more people:
👉Check out my Novels & Paintings!
👉Get my books on Amazon (Kindle, print, or AudioBook) & Apple Books
👉Like the Beautiful Buddha Page on Facebook
👉Follow Bethany on Twitter
As always, your respectful comments are appreciated. 🤗