Written by Ewan
I wonder whether we recognise how powerful a name is.
Names are our identity. They are who people know us as. They often hint at something about the person. In the Bible, Abram (father) became Abraham (father of many); Peter was the rock on which the church was built; Saul became Paul after his conversion. Jesus (The Lord Saves) has the title Christ (anointed one).
My real name possibly derives from a Pictish name meaning “born of a mountain.” Given my love for hiking I love that! As for my crossdresser name? Somewhere along the line I started calling her Susie (or Susanne if I was feeling mature), meaning Lily – one of my favourite flowers. When I was in online chats, fantasizing, or dressed, I became this character. Having a name helped complete her, enabling me (so I thought) to become this pretty flower. As crossdressers we could choose our names and grow into this character. But we who are healing, we have the choice to grow into our real names.
That said, being anonymous is often really wise. It helps us keep safe. It is often a healthy boundary. Not revealing our name and address online protects us from unwanted visitors at our home. Whistle blowers and witnesses to crime have the right to anonymity so as their job and lives are held secure. And when it comes to shameful habits, the bits of us that we hate, not using our name can be freeing. It helps us process these things in a safer way. We still know that they are part of us but we are able to disassociate ourselves from them enough that we can think about them honestly. Even then, one of the hardest pieces of writing I did was the form to join the prayer group.
Up until that point I had purged and tried going cold turkey. I had briefly told one person, but never really again. Despite it being such a huge part of my life, I couldn’t open up about it. It was just too difficult to think about. I felt people would mock me, shame me, not understand either what I was going through or why I wanted to give up. Not speaking about it felt safe. Comfortable. I didn’t have to admit fault.
When I came to that form, all I knew was that I needed help and that the prayer group would help. Here was this anonymous pastor, writing these posts that expressed how I really was. He saw how ashamed I felt. He understood my pain. He knew why I wanted to dress and why I wanted to stop. But he also gave me hope into believing that there could be freedom from this. And so I came to the form. And even knowing how much the blog posts helped, it took a few attempts to type up enough to explain my situation. I didn’t like digging into what I was doing. I didn’t like being honest and admitting my struggles. Using my name would have been too personal, too much information to share with strangers; and also admitting to a fuller extent that this was my problem. The fact that Barnabas is anonymous gave me the encouragement I needed that it was OK to stay anonymous.
However, in the last couple of years I started signing off my emails to the prayer group with my first name. It has been one of the most freeing things I have done. I’m not sure exactly why I did it. It just felt like a good thing to do. I had been experiencing more freedom in recent years, and so was able to say in conversation with close friends “I am recovering from a crossdressing addiction.” Doing this attached the addiction to me personally. But there is this odd dynamic. As we experience freedom, our identity shifts. Where I used to identify as Susie, I was now being more comfortable as Ewan.
Crossdressers often talk about their alter-egos as being part of them. That felt true, but it is a lie. Susie was born out of my mind. I existed before she existed. My identity could not logically be in her! But my parents chose my name shortly after I was born; long before I had any awareness of who I was as a person! And I realised that I didn’t need Susie/Suzanne. I realised
But as a Christian my identity is also not in me, Ewan. It’s in Christ; what he accomplished on the cross and in his resurrection. It’s in the newness of life he bought me. So the good bits of me and the bad bits are a part of me; but they do not define me. They are not essential to my being. I therefore do not need to crossdress to survive whatever life throws at me. I may want to from time to time; but I do not need to. Because of Christ, I am able to look inward to my sins, because though they are horrid, there is forgiveness in Him and His love is greater. I am more able to be honest, take ownership of them and therefore do something about it to change. This means I am able to attach my name to this problem. I am able to say: I am Ewan, and I have been healing from a crossdressing addiction for half a decade.
Whether we choose to share our name is a personal journey and requires much wisdom. I really respect Barnabas for not doing so, because of his position within the church. I am always thrilled when someone joins the prayer group, especially if they are anonymous, because it is a huge step forward. I am not ready to share my surname with you or the prayer group. But if you are able, I would like to encourage you to think about sharing your first name, or even the first initial. It’s surprisingly freeing. Think even briefly about your real name. What does it mean? Are you taking ownership of it! Which name are you more comfortable with – your crossdresser name or your real name? How can you learn to be more comfortable with your real name?