FINNERAN K. MUZZEY, MA
As a kid growing up, I was always “different.” I was largely labeled as the “weird” kid in the family, the one no one could seem to figure out. I was called rebellious, but I’ve always preferred to think of myself as independent. I always knew I wasn’t a boy, but I never felt like a girl either. I remember when I would get teased (or bullied, really) about whether I was a boy or a girl and I would say, “I’m not a boy, I’m not a girl, I’m Allison!” For as long as I can remember, I paved my own way through life.
As time went on, my gender-role breaking brought more than just teasing, it brought pain, physical and emotional. I tried to “be a girl,” to fit in with friends and make my parents happy. It didn’t work. It just made me incredibly unhappy. And, as I’ve long said throughout my life, if I’ve ever failed at anything it was trying to be a girl.
I was never actually a girl, just a person born with female genitalia who later got labelled as “female.” I never understood the role I was supposed to play, or why it mattered. I really just wanted to be me. An intellectually curious child who liked to hang upside down on the monkey bars (hard to do in a dress). I wanted to play basketball and baseball and ride my bike through the mud. I wanted to learn everything about space and become an astronaut. I took everything I could get my hands on apart, just so I see if I could figure out how to put it back together.
As a teenager, I fought through feelings of not being a girl, but also not being a boy. I didn’t know where I fit and I didn’t have the language to articulate my feelings either. I defaulted to calling myself what everyone else had always called me, a “girl.” Later, as an adult, I learned the language to describe myself better and one night, when the desire to take the weight off of being genderqueer overwhelmed me, I confessed it to someone I was dating at the time.
I anticipated a conversation, but not a blow out. Their reaction was not supportive. I was called a liar. I was told that they only dated females. I was told that I couldn’t change my body if I wanted to keep that relationship. I was told I needed help. I clammed up my feelings and identity, shoved them deep down inside me for no one else to know about.
A couple of years later, I finally found a support system that loved and cherished me for me. Friends and family that didn’t balk at my gender identity, that didn’t deny it, that didn’t require that I fulfill any other role than the one that worked for me as a human being. Since then, I’ve been on a (long……) process of acceptance, radical body love, and coming out. The time has finally come for me to move to a more gender-neutral name.
At first, I thought transitioning to a more gender-neutral name meant having to reinvent myself. While Allison never fit me well, it was me for a long time. I thought taking a new name meant having to take a new personality, a new history. The truth is, I’m not reinventing myself. In fact, I’m more accurately describing myself. My new name is a more accurate descriptor of my personality, my identity, my history. Allison is not gone, they’ll never be gone. Allison was just the prequel to the movie that is my life. Allison was good to me, a cherished chapter in my story, but now it’s time to start the next chapter.
I’m now going by Finneran, but you can call me Finn. The beautiful thing about choosing my own name is I get to make it symbolic of something important to me. I get to choose who I represent, beyond just myself. My Aunt Vivian is the most important person that ever existed in my life, so I’m taking her maiden name.
Finn is not a new me. Finn is not a reinvention of a former self, but a realization of who I’ve always been. For those that have always known me, you’ve always known Finn. You just knew to call Finn, Allison. Now, I’m sharing with you that my name is Finn.