You know me by my real name.
That wasn't always true. For a long time, I didn't know the name I used to have wasn't real. Then when I realized it wasn't, I had to find my real name. I looked for months until I found a name that was real.
Then when I found it, I had to ask, and sometimes plead, and sometimes demand that others use my real name. I often shouted or cried when they didn't because when they didn't use my real name, they made me feel like I wasn't real.
I was real. I am real.
I had to go to court for everyone else to recognize my real name, to recognize me as real. I've been shamed for my real name, been asked questions that made me feel less than human, been asked to prove that name belongs to me because it is a woman's name and to have it there are people who think I need to deserve it.
How dare I decide what name I want for myself? How dare I determine my own reality?
I grew up in a country that does not allow me to change my name unless I get married. I was a citizen of that country even though I lived in the U.S. I couldn't leave the U.S. without being made to feel I wasn't real. For ten years until I became an American citizen, I could not leave the country because I couldn't face the possibility of not being real.
My name is my real name. It's the name of my reality, not the reality that someone else has built for me, a reality I no longer am. It's a name that's more real to me than any other name because I chose it, and had to fight for it.
We must fight for our names and the names of others. We must fight for everyone's right to be real.