My name is T, and I’ve gone by T for about a year now, I started about the same time that I started sharing my nonbinary identity publicly. My name is something that I’d given a great deal of thought to.
Watching people adjust, partly because of the way I’ve had to mediate my name, has been amusing (on good days).
Facebook, before I deleted my account, doesn’t allow for single letter names. As a joke, one of my friends suggested that I use “Tea,” as in “spill the tea, sis.” She’s a Libra and I’m a Gemini, and that naming is a big air sign mood, so I went with it. I still get a lot of emails and texts that refer to me as “Tea,” which is fine, I understand how they got there, but it is an evidence of the ways in which my name has had to be mediated across platforms that weren’t designed for me.
But the naming practice that has always piqued my curiosity is the people who write “T.” The period as an abbreviation.
I am short for something: or, am I short of something?
The period indicates more, redacted.
It is something that I notice: those for whom there needs to be more than a single letter to a name. They impose a demand that there be something yet to come, or perhaps they see my name as my having pulled the curtain back over my deadname for a quick costume change: the period being a kind of chrysalis for me to emerge from.
“T.,” like single letters in a mathematical sense, is a variable that must stand in for something else that is the real value(d).
An example: My office door reads “T. Passwater.”
The period indicates something of the period of time that I occupy, a designation of transition: My name as a period of transition, incomplete (an aside: transition as being toward completeness a linear journey of towardness is, on its own, a problematic orientation to take.). Whether it indicates the past with “T.” or a future “T.,” we have demarcated “T.” as the present, as a contingent name predicated on the promise of more letters that follow. “T.” is made a name through that promise; as though T, outside of such promises, can only be a letter without a name.
It may be that T is a temporally contingent name, as the one that preceded it was. I do adore the name Terra, but that is not me, at least not right now, and I make no promise that it ever will be. To be clear: My name is T, and that is a complete and full name. To insist on temporalizing T, to periodize it, to insist that I am living within the period of “T.” on the way to or on the way from another name is to compose my being and my transness anticipating someone other than me. It renders this beautiful gender mess I live in into something intelligible to and for someone else.
POZZO: Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you…?
I’ll admit, maybe T is a variable, standing in for some hidden value: but it is some unnameable thing that I would have to dissect through lots of Derridean readings that we none have the time for to talk about the relationships between language, truth: signs and symbols. Perhaps T makes one shiver with antici…
and maybe that’s the point: whole and complete in its incompleteness of naming praxis. Linguistic practices of nominalization, like allocisheterotemporalities were not made for me: how do I nominalize myself, render myself into language(time)? T, a ruining of naming: “To build from the ruin; our building might seemed ruined; when we build, we ruin. It is lesbian feminist hope: to become a ruin, to ruin by becoming” (Ahmed 232).
[She] didn’t say for sure [she’d] come.
And if [she] doesn’t come?
We’ll come back tomorrow.
And then the day after tomorrow.
And so on.
The point is—
Until [she] comes.
We came here yesterday.
Ah no, there you’re mistaken.