ten invented, post-hoc reasons for choosing my name, and the truth. (thread)
1. Melissa (Greek μέλισσα) ‘honeybee’ ≅ general Tupian Jandira ‘honeybee’, name of my grandmother who raised me as a baby
2. ‘Mel’ is feminine (not neutral) in my language and it sounds almost like an inversion of the shortened form of my deadname.
3. Alphabetically one letter forward from deadname; symbolically a step forward.
4. But matches it in sonorous liquid consonants.
5. The mél- Proto-Indo-European etymon is interesting af. Not only it gives mel, mead etc. in Europe but it went all the way to Tocharian in China and from there becomes Chinese 蜜 *mit > Japanese mitsu. It helps us pinpoint the Urheimat of PIE, because we can narrow it down to areas with bees; the same kind of linguistic detective work I do in my Jap. research.
6. Robert Graves’ old-fashioned theory on King Melisseus being really a front for Mother Melissa the Queen-Bee, who killed the male.
7. The name codes as unapologetically hyperfeminine in my culture.
8. It always brings to mind my favourite Latin word, mellifflua: she who speaks fluently, as if honey flowed from her lips. As a lifelong linguist, I feel perpetually inadequate in all the languages and dialects I wish I was fluent. Similarly, I may never be fully fluent in the ‘language’ of socially acceptable femininity. Claiming mellifluousness equals asserting my femininity is valid.
the actual truth:
I don’t know the reason! It is a name that I have carried with me for a long time. Maybe there never was one.
When my ex fatefully asked what would be my female name if I had one and I said ‘Melissa’ she was like ‘nah—not that! You’re totally not a Melissa’. As mentioned, it is a high-femme name for us, girlish even; I’m 1,81 and looked like a hairy, bulky daddy. I could not explain to her that it hurt.
the actual truth (2/3):
When choosing a name I almost picked Bárbara as a safer choice—wonderful name, ‘Bárbara Boiko’ alliterates cool like a comic-book character, and it has the opposite connotations re: linguistic fluency, femininity, petite cuteness.
But I had this heavy feeling of mourning for the girl I could never be, the teenage witch who never was, the 20somethings linux-gal denied from spacetime; and I decided to honour my earlier self, to carry on with the name she had chosen.
the actual truth (3/3):
Upon coming out at work, the first thing I was told is that it would be easier for them to call me Mel because ‘you don’t look like a Melissa’—I had totally forgotten that the shortened version would be gender-neutral in English!
It took a long time but I have managed to accept that I am allowed to have this name. Today I look at the mirror and, contrary to cis judgement, I see Melissa.
the actual truth (3/3):
@elilla That process of *self-acceptance* can certainly take some time to really internalise. It's indeed a lovely sensation when it happens, though. ^_^
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