Why I Don't Capitalize My Name
My name is joshua. My pronouns are they/them/theirs and joshua.
I am neuro-queer and gender-vague.
I also have no name; or pronouns; or neuro-type; or gender; and i am no-one.
Having a break-down woke me up to the understanding that my identity has been largely shaped by external sources.
“My” given birth-name is Joshua, and “my” given nick-name is Josh.
“My” given pronouns are he/him, and “my” given “sex/gender” is male/man.
And so on.
I didn’t choose these things as fundamental parts of my identity. I agreed to them.
This realization spiraled until every aspect of my life had been erratically analyzed for instances of external identity-molding.
It’s difficult for me to put into words the internal experience i underwent during this break-down (to be frank, i’m fairly unsure of whether or not i’m still experiencing it), but the most salient nugget of wisdom i’ve garnered is that i have to-date put little-to-no conscious effort into taking charge of my identity, instead continually allowing it to be projected onto me by others. In the end i realized i was basically (read: in my most basic state) no-one.
And in that moment i finally understood what Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) meant when he wrote:
“Don’t say that i will depart tomorrow —
even today i am still arriving.”
What Viktor Frankl meant when he quoted from a dying woman within a Nazi concentration camp:
“This tree here is the only friend i have in my loneliness. . .
I often talk to this tree. . .
It said to me, ‘I am here-I am here-I am life, eternal life.’”
What Eckhart Tolle meant when he wrote:
“I am not my thoughts, emotions, sense perceptions, and experiences. I am not the content of my life.”
What Chögyam Trungpa meant when he wrote:
“When you take the attitude that the toothbrush does not exist and the brusher does not exist, you can brush your teeth much more easily.”
What i finally understood — what i understand — is that i have been influenced to believe that i “have” (inherently) a certain identity (in the strict sense of ‘identity’ that i am referring to here) and that this identity is inherently meaningful, when in reality i don’t, and it isn’t.
In shedding and re-evaluating this identity — as Trungpa notes — my life has actually become easier.
The de-capitalization of my name is both a reclamation of my identity (i.e., don’t call me Josh) as well as a move towards a lack of one (i.e., the lower-case stylization represents my name’s insignificance).
Identifying with novel pronouns is both a reclamation of my identity (i.e., don’t refer to me as he/him) as well as a move towards a lack of one (i.e., the agender application of “they/them” represents my gender’s insignificance).
Recognizing the queerness of my neurology — my queering of neurology — is both a reclamation of my identity (i.e., don’t call me neuro-diverse) as well as a move towards a lack of one (i.e., queerness [as a verb] is a vehicle for me to demonstrate my stance on the insignificance of “neuro-types”).
And so on.
I am choosing these things as fundamental components of my identity. I am agreeing with them. And also, i’m not.
Much like Thay, i am still arriving. My identity is constantly in flux.
If you mis-name/gender me, i may correct you (and be appreciative if some-one else does), or i may not. I really don’t care a whole lot.
I care less about how you refer to me and more about challenging your perception and (mis)understanding of (my) “identity.”
So call me by my name/s. Call me Joshua; Josh; joshua; he; or they. Call me what you will, because they are all me. And none of them are.
And when you are corrected, and you continue to mis-name/gender me, your perception will be challenged as you make the choice to value your own version of me over mine, and my identity will have performed its function.