March 13, 2011
All in a name...
I've never talked about my name. Well, names. I have quite a few.
First, there's the one my parents gave me. Jason Edward Hawkins. It sounds awesome if you say it with a British accent. Hawkins is obviously my family name, Edward was an uncle or cousin or something, and who the hell knows where Jason came from. I like it, though. Jason. It's simple, has two syllables, and is recognizable but not too common. I wish there was more of a story behind it, though.
Then, there's Simone. I picked this up my junior year in high school. I stole my best friends heels from her at the winter formal, and didn't give them back for months. I wore them to class, to breakfast, to the store - I got killer calf muscles. One of my good friends, who introduced me to people like Antony and the Johnsons, said, "You need a name. A fabulous name. A unique, sexy, beautiful name. Perhaps of a famous French whore." I agreed. We did some research and found nothing regarding popular harlots from France. But I was listening to Nina Simone quite a bit at the time, and it somehow stuck. Simone.
Eventually I put the two names together so that people could choose which one they wanted to call me. Jason Simone. I never really had a preference. Many people, though, felt somehow uncomfortable calling me by a "male" name while I was wearing knee-high boots and sleeveless gowns. I, however, quite like the juxtaposition. It's sort of a rejection of all the meaning that is placed by something so simple as a name.
If you know someone's name before you meet them, you begin to intact all the gender roles and stereotypes that have been driven into our heads since birth. We always presume someone named Ashley is female, but then when me meet those few who are actually male, there's a moment of "Ah, you're name is Ashley. And you're a guy. Okay!" I push way past that moment when I stand before people, dressed the way I do, and introduce myself with a male name. It's quite odd, actually, because most people expect that I have adopted a female one, since my appearance is very feminine. Even if they are perfectly dandy with the fact that I'm a man in a dress, they are still caught by surprise when they hear "Jason". And I giggle every time.
And now I have a new name, apparently. Since working at Whole Foods since last June, everyone has started calling me Lady Jason, or Lady J. I think it's super cute, and even made a new name tag. I have quite a fun time watching customers faces when they read my name. Some say "Thank you, m'Lady" when I hand them their food, while other say "What's the Lady for?" or "Is your name actually Lady?" One of my coworkers gets the same questions. His name is Claire. That's the name he was given by his parents when he was born, and that is also her drag name. And I know I switched pronouns. That's a subject for a different post.
Indeed, it's all in a name.