First off, hello, and happy Pride. I didn’t intend for this post to coincide with Pride month, but it did, and I suppose it’s apt. In reality, I’ve just been far too busy to get the post put out despite making some changes to the blog itself.
Anyway, there have been some small changes in the way I refer to myself, both in this blog and elsewhere, so I figured I would take a little time to explain.
To get right to the heart of it, I’m transgender. Specifically, I’m nonbinary. I’ve been identifying as such since 2019, though my history of finding a sensible way to be “out” goes all the way back to 2003 or so, when I first came out to my partner as “androgynous” (the word “nonbinary” did not yet exist). Since then, especially due to the lack of visibility or recognition in society, I’ve not made a public matter of it, often only quietly adding in queer-inclusive spaces that I considered myself “genderqueer”. In 2019, I reached a point, both personally and professionally, when I believed I’d be able to get adequate support, and so I elected to identify as nonbinary starting with the next job I took.
That was nearly 4 years ago, and especially thanks to the time alone to think during the pandemic, I’ve been reasonably successful at charting a transition that will work for me. I won’t go into too many of the details here, but I will mention the two that are relevant to this blog– my pronouns and my name.
My pronouns were one of the first things I changed back in 2019. I had timed my transition with the start of a new job, since I felt the fresh start would be easier than trying to get a large number of old colleagues to change their habits. After a very brief period of being “they/he”, I realized that I was offering the “he” pronoun as a comfort only to others and not myself, and I quickly settled on “they/them”, with a preference to not frequently correct those around me if they misgender me.
One thing I’ve learned about being nonbinary is that if you give people the opportunity to misgender you, they will. Most people don’t do this out of malice but simply out of reflex; they quickly bin you into a binary gender based on a handful of markers and they keep going. Even I fall into this with my nonbinary friends from time to time, especially if I’m talking in a hurry.
Reflexive gendering comes from the way one’s mind decodes a number of different signs and signals in a rapid way; most of us got “gender training” very early in our lives. As a result, anyone, cis or trans, who is gender non-conforming in some way knows the experience of being misgendered due to sending the signs of a gender they don’t claim for their own. That might be the long-haired cis man or the cis woman with the buzz cut and deep voice, for example. But it does mean that, while much of my presentation is reflective of my personal sense of self-expression, some aspects of it are “gender armor” I consciously adopt out of a desire to make sure others see me as I see myself.
Which brings me around to the matter of my name. I have great fondness for my birth name. It’s a very pretty name, “Rhett”, and a fairly unusual one. It connects me to my family’s history (it does not come from the character in “Gone With The Wind”, by the way). But it is a very clearly masculine name. I’ve also called myself “Kit” in certain circles for a few years now. I’ve noticed that people who knew me as “Kit” first tend to be quicker in using my correct pronouns and also tend to describe me in ways that reflect a recognition of my diverse gender identity and presentation. And so, I’ve come to see “Kit” as a name that “protects” me better than “Rhett”. All things being equal, I might not need to even think about an alternate name, but all things are not equal.
So, I’m in an in-between point now. I’m letting those who know me under one name or the other call me what they’ve always called me. With new introductions in my life, especially in accepting circles, I’m going with “Kit” as a matter of course. Professionally, I’ll likely change names at my next job the way I changed pronouns with my current job. In order to make that an easier process, I’m employing a quirk of my name. “Rhett” was already my middle name, and nobody calls me by my legal first name. Therefore, I can start a transitional period (which might be indefinite) by going back to my old practice of using my full name in various professional and online contexts.
And so you get what we now have here– “Kit Rhett Aultman”. I’m using this in most online professional contexts, and it’ll increasingly become the default as I find new places to change it out. This will preserve my online history while making room for something new that I believe will, ultimately, help me be seen as I want to be seen in public.
So, all of this is to say that, unless you’re already close to me, please consider calling me Kit from now on. I’ll greatly appreciate it.