27 years ago, I gave birth to my second child. Hubs and I named “her” Marissa. A lovely name for a lively child.
Approximately 7 years ago, “Marissa”, who had by then come out as queer and non-binary (the queer part was easier to get my head around at first than the non-binary part) announced that they would now be referred to as “Rabbie”.
Say what?! I thought to myself. Why? What’s wrong with “Marissa”? It’s a damn beautiful name, right people?
I told Bonnie over the phone. She “misheard” me and said “Rabbit?” I laughed nervously and told her to think of it as a nickname. I reminded her that Rabbie was romantically attracted to both genders and this was one expression of that (though now I realize it’s much more nuanced). She responded by saying she was going to be praying that “Marissa” found herself a nice boy to fall in love with and marry someday.
My mom never did “get” it. I never held it against her however. Fact of the matter is, I wasn’t necessarily “getting it” back then either.
Hubs and I struggled with this for a good long while. I was offended that the kid was rejecting the name we lovingly chose for them. I felt anxious about how to explain it to others. So many times when talking about how our kids were doing to friends and acquaintances, I found myself referring to “Marissa” as “Rabbie” and got the most confused looks in exchange.
But time is an interesting thing. The more I referred to
her them as “Rabbie” the more natural it seemed to come to me. The less I felt the need to explain it to myself or others. I even shortened it to “Rabs” when I was speaking to them directly.
I realized over time is that it’s not about me. It’s about the kid not feeling “girly” inside. It’s about them not embracing traditional Americanized gender roles. It’s about the kid expressing their true selves and asserting their independence. It’s about the kid asserting their right to be seen as who they really are, not someone who we as their parents and society at large thinks they should be.
***Header image courtesy of https://locallove.ca/issues/your-guide-to-non-binary-pronouns/#.X1UnmN7YqWw