My Name

I knew my name years before I knew I was a woman, but this story starts even before that. As a young teenager (I imagine I was 13), I attended an overnight summercamp. The counselors all used camp names like Meadow or Sunflower in place of what they used in everyday life. At some point my cabin got the idea to try and guess our counselor's real-life name. After a number of unsuccessful wild guesses, she gave us the hint that it started with the letter "D". The others in my cabin shouted out reasonable tries like "Deborah" or "Denice" before running out of ideas and trying unlikely names like "Demily" or "Drachel". I remember laying in the dark, peeking over the end of the top bunk I was supposed to be sleeping in, trying to think of a woman's name that started with "D".

I've never been an avid viewer of The X-Files, but it eventually occurred to me that the name "Dana" as in "Dana Scully" is a woman's name, so I gave that a try. Our counselor didn't respond and I assumed my guess was incorrect. At that point, the cabin descended into chaos, which ended the guessing for the night.

The next day, we begged our counselor to tell us her name because we were all out of ideas. She said it had been guessed the night before, so I said "Oh, Dana!" and I was right.

I thought nothing more of this for years until one day in college. Long before I had any inkling that my gender identity might not actually align with what I had been assigned, the thought arrived in my head completely out of the blue that if I were a woman, my name would be Dana. Looking back, I wish I had interrogated this idea a bit more at the time, but in any case, my reaction was more or less "huh, that's an interesting thing to think".

So I didn't know what that meant, and I wouldn't for many years, but when I did realize I was a woman (a story for another day, although remarkably similar in some ways), I had the comfort of already knowing my name, which is Dana.