My name is Jacky

8 02 2008

What’s in a name anyway? We get finicky sometimes over how our names are spelled or pronounced right? I grew up in the US with a French last name that no one could pronounce right and having to argue with kids who thought that they knew better than me how it should sound. Then, back in Quebec, I have frequently had to correct people who misspelled my last name (there are two common ways of spelling it here). However, it’s not until recently that I’ve realised what’s in a name, for me.

As mentioned in a previous entry, I came out at my workplace in a massive way a few weeks ago. The response has been great and most people have switched to calling me Jacky. Interestingly, and probably unsurprisingly, it has been easier for people who know me a little less since they have not been interacting with me as closely for the past 5 years. People who I interact with more and have become friends with still slip which is, of course, perfectly understandable. As one colleague explained just this evening, we make visual associations between people and their names. I’ve made it clear that I am in no way insulted by these slippages. I know that it’s normal and that it will take a while. First of all, I try to put myself in the place of someone who knows someone through transition; I have only known trans people who were already in transition and had adopted their new identity and name so I don’t know what it’s like to have to make that mental adjustment. Secondly, as another colleague put it, I should feel happy that so many people know my name so well to start with – it’s a sign, as she put it, that I have been so involved in my workplace (we function as a community in many ways as educational environments are wont to do) that I’ve made myself known as a active presense in the college.

While most people have been very respectful and supportive, for which I am so so so grateful everyday, there are a couple of people who, without realising it, have shown various degrees of disrespect in a way that they would probably never do to a non-trans person. 4 (count them!) people at my workplace have made requests to call me Jack instead of Jacky. Now, 2 of them are people that I consider friends and they did ask nicely so that was OK. I wasn’t too upset – I just politely asked that they call me  by the name I had chosen (Jacky). The third one is not someone I would consider a friend but certainly a friendly acquaintance. He did ask but in a way that implied that it would be very useful FOR HIM if I let him call me Jack. Again, I gritted my teeth and politely asked him to call me Jacky. Now the fourth one  . . . boy did she piss me off. She didn’t ask. Her words: “I’m really liking Jack so I think I’m going to call you that.”


I hardly know this person. I’ve had a grand total of 2 conversations with her and a handful of “hello’s” in passing in the hallways. And she has the gall to not ASK but TELL me that she was going to call me by a name other than my own.  Would she TELL a non-trans person that she had unilaterally decided to call them by another name? Is it the fact that I chose my name that makes people think it is less meaningful than a name assigned at birth? I’m utterly perplexed and confused.

There is another name thing that is bugging me a bit while I’m at it. It’s not bugging me to the point that I would’ve written a rant about it but since I’m ranting anyway I might as well include it. For some reason, some people have felt that I owed them an explanation of why I chose my name. I’m not saying it’s not OK to ask, especially if someone is my friend. But what irritates me is people who ask in that tone of voice – you know the one – “Why THAT name??”, with a look of disbelief on their face. You know . . .in the same tone of voice that one might ask: “Why did you order COCKROACH SOUP from the menu??”


Well, because I feel like it tonight, I will hereby provide the definitive answer to why and how I picked my male name. Over the past few years, as my desire to transition increased in leaps and bounds, I contemplated two names: Michael and Robin. I wasn’t nuts about Michael though. I don’t dislike it but I didn’t feel that it suited me. I simply thought it would be appropriate since my parents had planned on naming me Michael (the Dr. said I would be a boy because of the speed of my heartbeat. This was 1973, before ultrasounds). On the other hand, I liked Robin because of its androgynous nature. Although I am now male identified, I still consider myself androgynous when it comes to personality. Besides, my alltime hero is Robin Hood!

However, once I made my Decision (yes, the cap is intentional there, in reference to the day that it became concrete in my mind that this was what I wanted to do and that I am as allowed as anyone else to be fulfilled and happy and comfortable in my skin and to feel HUMAN), neither of these names wound up feeling right. They just didn’t feel like me.

What felt like me was Jack or Jacky. But I hesitated.  My dad’s name was Jacques, or Jack to the Americans where we lived, and I was concerned that it would come across as having “Dad issues” (which I do have, but whatever). So I decided to keep exploring. At one time, I seriously contemplated Charlie. I wasn’t nuts about it but it made sense. My dad’s younger sister’s name was Charlotte (my middle name and the name of my slutty female alter-ego by the way, the one that, until recently, would go to sex clubs and fuck strangers just for fun and excitement) and he always called her Charlie. He would proudly boast about what a tomboy she was and how tough she was. So it seemed to be a logical choice: using an androgynous version of my own middle name. In addition, I looked it up on various baby name websites and found out that it means “free man.”

But. But. But. It just didn’t feel like me. So I said “Screw it, Jacky is who I am.” I do really like Jack, of course and I always have. But it feels much more manly than I’ll actually ever be. Perhaps when I’m in my 40s I will feel that I deserve the name Jack but, for some reason, Jacky sounds more boyish to me and I feel that I need to be a boy before I can be a man. I also like how mischievous Jacky sounds and how it has an androgynous quality.   Most importantly, I really like it because it sounds like me and who I want to be.

And yes, I AM proud to be named after my father. He was an alchie and had weird ideas about certain things but he was a special man that taught me a lot about resilience and inner strength. It is because of him that I know I have the capacity to keep going when all hope is lost. It is because of him that I know the value of helping strangers in need. It is because of him that friendly banter makes my day, everyday, because I saw him in action as a child and how he made people smile with his easy-going sense of humour.

So yeah . . . my name is Jacky and it feels great.



12 responses

9 02 2008

I’ve had a few folks–understandably–mispronounce my name as Logan. Our brother asked me why I had such a dumbass name in the first place, which was a bit of an idiot question, seeing as I didn’t choose it, but he was having a freak out and not in the mood of dealing with a bonkers sister.

Molly has tried to irritate Mac by calling him Pat or Patty a few times, except he always just winks and makes purring sounds at her, which made her decide to knock it off.


9 02 2008
Jacky V.

I like the name Rogan – I don’t think it’s dumbass at all! What happens if I call Mac Patty next time we’re chatting? I don’t mind purring noises LOL.

1 03 2008

Glad I just came across your blog Jacky, consider me a new reader. It looks like we started blogging our transitions at about the same time.

Question: Were you born in Quebec? I was born in Montreal, and I’m a little unclear about their requirements for gender marker change on ID. I found one QC government site that said you had to have SRS surgery to get a gender marker change on your birth certificate, but they didn’t specify what surgery is required. Have you looked into this at all? Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

1 03 2008
Jacky V.

Hey Genderoutlaw! Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to checking out your blog as soon as I finish replying to this comment.

I currently have the exact same concern as you do (I was born in QC and still live in Montreal by the way). I actually wrote to the Directeur de l’État Civil (DEC) to find out if they mean actual external genital surgery, as in a phallo, or if a hysterectomy will do. I *think* that it’s the latter but since I’m supposed to call back the guy from DEC who left me a message, I’m still not sure. I really hope that’s the case because if they require a phallo, that is extremely discriminatory for FTMs, seeing as a phallo is inaccessible to most of us. I don’t want to spend my life being searched at customs because I look male but have F on my passport.

Anyway, as soon as I have that info, I will probably post on it and try to remember to give you a head’s up. Perhaps we can find a way to hook up on MSN or something if you like. If you’re living in Montreal, you might be interested to know that a few FTMs are starting to get together to try to socialise and share practical tips. Most of the ones I know are francophone.

3 03 2008

Thanks, Jacky! I will be interested to hear what response you get from the DEC. Yeah, I think that’s discriminating if they require a phallo. (Would a metoidioplasty cut it?) That would make me assume that the policy was drafted by bio-men who would prefer to make our “entry into the club” as difficult as possible. If this is the case, I wonder if it’s ever been challenged in court? Certainly, if the gov requires me to have surgery that I hadn’t planned on having just to get some paperwork done, I would make them pay for it (I’m privately funding my chest surgery.) Of course, in the case of phallo, I don’t believe there’s any coverage, so that’s a chicken/egg problem.

I definitely have concerns about walking around with a beard and an F on my ID. In some parts of the world, that’s just asking for a beating.

Great to hear a group of guys are getting together in MTL! I don’t get back there too often anymore, but I have hooked up with a cool group of guys here on the West Coast, and it’s valuable to be able to chill and swap stories with them.

3 03 2008
Jacky V.

I think it was challenged in court a few years ago when an FTM couldn’t get his sex changed on his birth certificate because he wouldn’t get a vagin . . .whatever the name of the surgery that closes off the vagina is called. But he won, although I think he needed to have a hysto. Even THAT is problematic as far as I’m concerned. Although I do want one, I don’t think anything more than hormonal treatments should be required. Someday, there should be more gender/sex options available but . . .that will be the good fight.

7 03 2008

Hey Jacky, my GF got an email from a transman from PQ today explaining that Quebec requires T, top surgery and a hysto for a gender marker change. He also said this info is four years old and that “the Quebec administration is notorious for changing things around every other day”. He provided the name of a trans activist in PQ that I can write to for more info.

Something else interesting… I went through a name change as a teenager (changed my last name), but the PQ govt did NOT issue me a new birth certificate. Instead, my birth certificate (with my original given name) is now accompanied by a change of name doc that the ON govt issued me (I was living in ON at the time.) This was a bit concerning for me because I would like to have a NEW birth cert issued with my new name… I can’t walk around with a birth cert that has a girl’s name and a M gender marker, right!? Anyway, a letter from a psychologist can apparently accompany the regular docs for a name change and from what I understand, the PQ govt will then issue a brand new birth certificate with the new name.

I will drop a line to this trans activist and see if I can come up with some more concrete facts on all of this!

20 03 2008

I have a little more info about gender marker changes in QC: top surgery, 12 months of testosterone, a hysterectomy (not sure which type) AND you must have been living in QC for the past 12 months. That’s a problem for me since I haven’t lived in Montreal since 1979! Paper pushing and agenda pushing (not to mention more surgery) ahead. This WILL be a process!!

20 03 2008
Jacky V.

That is consistent with the information I have received.

15 05 2008
Well, actually . . . I’m starting to like Jack « Tboy Jacky

[…] . . . I’m starting to like Jack 15 05 2008 Back a couple of months ago, I wrote a rant about how people were calling me Jack instead of Jacky. Lately, though . . .ummm . . .I’ve […]

21 02 2009

Well it’s a bit late after you posted your story, but I just came across it and I’ll like to comment.

I changed my name with my naturalization, not with my filing, and since I had an ethnic name before, it didn’t hinder my passing. When people found out that I had a name change, I still had some of that “Why that name” look. (People that I was a guy to). Somehow people tend to have certain images linked to certain names, and so when you are not that image, they question your choice. Even if it was your birth name, they might also say or think “But you don’t look like a Jacky!” Don’t worry about it though, you will soon grow into your name, and your name grow onto you, and someone who knows you will have the image of your kind of person when they meet someone else in the future named Jacky. Perhaps the other Jacky would be a totally different kind of person, and the person who knows you would think of the other Jacky as “someone who doesn’t look like a Jacky!”

As to being called something other your name, such as Jack, it happens with everybody. (Well, almost everybody.) The people who know you are nice enough to ask you, but many people aren’t. For example, people who are named Michael will get nicknames such as Mike, Robert becomes Rob or Bob or Robby or Bobby, Jonathan becomes Johnny or John. Some people just like to shorten the names to as short as possible, hence the calling you of Jack, but I don’t think they really mean any offense. Now if they insisted on calling you by your birth name and refuse to acknowledge your chosen name, I would call THAT offensive.

I hope that will make you feel a little better about your name, and perhaps everybody else about their name! 🙂

23 02 2009
Jacky V.

Hi there;

Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting. I’m very happy with my name . . .always have been since I chose it.

And, yes, I realise this happens to everyone. But that fact doesn’t change how I felt about someone simply saying: “This is what I want to call you.” With regards to any kind of imposition like that, I always have a problem. It’s just rude. Sure, lots of people do it. But lots of people omit to help out strangers, like people on cruches or older people, by giving them their seat on the bus.

Yeah, lots of people like to shorten names and a lot of people don’t mind. But when someone specifically asks NOT to be called a certain way and people persist, that becomes rude. The first time isn’t offensive, but repeating something, whether it be a name or asking someone out on a date, after they have said no is always rude.

That’s my 2 cents!

Thanks for commenting.


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