Oct. 18th, 2013

So, I was at $conference. I think I walked out of there knowing and considering more than when I walked in, so that's a good thing.

There was an old joke told as an introduction to one of the talks: "There are 2 hard problems in programming: Cache invalidation, naming things and off-by-one errors."

Yup, names are hard. Names are harder for some than for others. Actually writing this post is hard.

It's hard because I want to speak about something.

But it's also hard because I don't want to lay blame.

This is not about anyone. It might be about me, a little... but not really.

It's not about $conference, or anything they can do.

I just want to talk about it. I know nobody (beyond those who know me) is going to read this, but I want to make it clear that this is not a thing that I expect to be fixed or for blame to lie anywhere. This is just something that Is.

This is the first time I didn't have to pay for a ticket. Basically my employer paid for the tickets for a bunch of us in exchange for spending some time on a desk pimping our jobs. Sure, it means I missed some talks I wanted to go to, because I was on the desk, but that's fine. That's also not what I want to talk about.

I'm really not sure if there are any answers here.

I'm trans, and in a weird situation.

Outside of work, I'm known as Aoife.

Inside of work, I'm known by a different name; it's the name that would be used if I had to appear in court.

In the Dublin $conference community, I'm known as Aoife.

Because my workplace paid for my ticket, I had my legal name on my name badge. So, the community got to see a name of mine that I really rather wish they didn't know.

I have a rule these days: I try not to give people a choice in my identity; I'm always disappointed when people choose the wrong one.

The letters on my name badge are big. I assume it's to provide safety behind knowing someone's "real" name.

It makes sense: big letters on a big badge make it hard to hide; it makes spaces safe; it doesn't let you hide.

People saw my legal name.

A name I don't want them to see.

They were given a choice in my identity, without me giving it.

A choice I did not want to let them have.

It caused confusion for others.

It caused embarassment for me.

There is no blame here.

Just an unfortunate situation.

I could get off the fence but, right now, there are reasons not to.

This was meant to be a temporary thing. For most, it is.

This embarassing little situation does not last long for most trans people I know.

But I'm stuck.

I know people who organised the event, this was nothing they did; no fault lies with them.

If I talked to them, I could have avoided this situation.

If I had done that, I would have had a different problem with work.

I have a rule: you don't come out in work, they look at you differently; it's never the same.

I have a rule: I can come out to colleagues, if I consider them friends.

I have a rule: you don't come out to management, they expect you to do something.

One choice or the other would have been uncomfortable.

Naming things is hard.



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