September 7th, 2010
Today we bring you a guest post. An ENORMOUS thank you to Tyson for writing about her experiences with her name:
Oh where to begin??
I don’t recall much about my name as a younger child. My first major negative association with my name was when I moved schools in the 8th grade… 1st class… gym. I go in sit down and wait… it’s a BOYS gym class. The teacher made a big deal out of it, then I had to go to the office for them to redo my schedule. By lunch I was “the new girl that tired to get into the boys gym class”. Mortified doesn’t really begin to describe it, especially for the rather shy person that I was.
Also remember around that time that a friend of mine’s mom claimed she was just going to call me Marie since Tyson wasn’t a pretty name. I liked it, thought it was pretty, so didn’t mind or think otherwise about it. Looking back I realize how ironic (and rude) that was… my friend’s name was Chris and her mom’s name was Marty! People would ask if I was related to Mike Tyson or if my parents were fans, and it never really bothered me too much to just say “nope”! Tyson’s Chicken was far more agitating. My Grandma still cuts out the Tyson’s Chicken label every now and then and puts it in my scrapbook… never thought a little red oval could be so annoying.
College was the first time I really started to experience that problems that go along with having a boys name. I wish people wouldn’t fool themselves, it’s not unisex, it’s a boys name through and through. It means “son of David”… interestingly enough my mom heard that name as a preteen and always said she was going to name her first child Tyson whether it was a boy or girl. Then add in my middle name of Lane, and there was nothing left to tell my gender on paper!
I started getting letters from the government warning me that it’s a federal offensive to not enlist in the selective service, ie the draft. I threw away each letter because, well, I’m not a male so it didn’t apply to me. Towards the end of the school year I get a notice that a warrant for my arrest was being issued! Eek! After many many looooong phone calls later, I was “cleared”…. I was fearing I was going to have to go get a physical or something! Come to find out the University so politely “corrected” my paperwork for me and switched me to a male… which then the government has access too and had an 18 yr old male in college that had not enlisted. Just wonderful.
There were so many times during the huge lecture type classes that when going to retrieve my exam results I’d be asked to show proof of identification when not one other single person did. Not sure what they thought I was going to do with someone else’s results… but it was annoying. Once again, in front of a crowd of people staring at me, my name would be an issue. I’m not a center of attention, look-at-me type person… that’s when I first started really cursing my name.
However, on the other hand college was about the only time I truly liked my name every once in a blue moon. People thought it was “cool” or “neat” and they easily remembered it. There were times when I’d inwardly feel embarassed when a guy I was dating would hesitate to say my name to others or when on the phone with his parents he’d be sure that yes HER name is Tyson. There was also a guy named Tyson and we sort of ran in the same circles (our best friends dated each other). Then when all of our related friends were talking it’d be “Girl Tyson” and “Guy Tyson”… it really didn’t bother me that much at the time, but it really did him I think. It was just awkward.
The minute Mike Tyson bit off Holyfield’s ear, my eyes couldn’t roll any further into the back of my head… I knew I was in for it. I was kinda able to use it as an ice breaker or something to laugh at. “Watch out, I could bite your ear off!”. Or Tyson’s Chicken would run a big sale and all I’d hear for weeks would be “Tyson’s split chicken breast, buy one get one free”….niiiiice!
It wasn’t until I graduated and headed out into the real world that my name became officially annoying and negative for me. It took me a long time to even get called in for interviews. Finally after obtaining some interviews, people would actually admit that they almost didn’t call me because they thought I was a gay man (I was floored they’d actually tell me that!). I had a bachelors in Interior & Architectural Design with my name, I can see how they’d make that connection. I moved from the midwest to a big city in the south… unfortunately most companies were looking for pretty girls to put forth. I’ve never had to deal with discrimination, and just experiencing it in that small amount was pretty disgusting. Finally, I got a job (and yes it was with a place that did think I was a man and they totally weren’t planning on calling me at all) and from then on spent the majority of my time always having to repeat my name a dozen times, hear the Mike Tyson/Tyson’s Chicken remarks, then the questions on why I was named that. I yearned to just be able to say “Hi, I’m Rachel” and have that be it and get on with my job of designing their home!
In planning to get married, vendors thought we were two men trying to get hitched, the reverand thought he was going to have legal issues!. Got all them “straightened” out and I do have to say our wedding announcements of Tyson Lane getting married to Gregory did kind of look funny. Thought once I was married it would help to have the Mrs. Tyson…. but no, people then thought Tyson was my husband and I was very old fashioned. I couldn’t win. I was debating actually putting my picture on my resume, as tacky as that would of been!
Once I was pregnant, until the nurses got to know me I always had to deal with the utter look of confusion when the nurses would call me back and the entire waiting room staring at me. Since then I’ve joined moms groups, only to have the organizer want to meet me somewhere public first for fear that I was some man trying to get info on a bunch of women and their children. Everyone always apologizes, and I don’t hold it against them, it just gets old.
Most recently, I filled my birth control prescription only to have it not ready for me when I got there. They just cancelled it because it didn’t make sense that a man was getting birth control. Again, apologies, but time wasted on my part. I also had billing issues with my children’s doctors office. When I tried to call to show them their error (the bill was paid asap) I couldn’t because the office “corrected” the paperwork. They took the only females name on the paperwork, my mother in law as emergency contact, made her the mother and myself the grandfather. Lovely. I am curious what goes through peoples head that’s an awfully HUGE leap to make in “correcting” stuff. Again, apologies, but time wasted. Even when we had our patio expanded the owner of the business shows up asked if my husband was Greg or Tyson and then asked who I was. It’s so tempting to want to reply “The person that wants the construction done and writes the checks, so you better watch it!”… but I know it’s not his fault. Of course, more apologies!
I filled out our zoo membership while standing right there in front of the person who even had my drivers license. Then we receive our cards… Mr. Tyson! It’s gotten past the point of even being funny anymore, it’s just gotten so incredibly old. People I meet in person also continue to rename me…like correcting me like I’ve said my name wrong or something… Tatum, Taylor, Tybee, Tycie, Tylee, etc…
I always try to make a point to explain to people that while they might think a boys name on a girl is cute or is going to make her strong or stand out… that’s it’s how they’re raised, the experiences they have and their personality that does that. Not their name. While I was always a shy person, I was still very hard headed and independent. The only my name ever did for me was make me stand out in the wrong way or a way I wasn’t comfortable with. Now in my 30′s I find myself still having to explain that YES I am a female.
As far as naming my own children, so far no girls, just my boys Jake & Evan. I wouldn’t say my style would be super frilly, but still obiviously feminine like Leah, Lauren, Jena and Jocelyn. I do have a baby name book that I got as a teenager (you know when you and your friends would obsess about your future kids names) and I found that for girls I did have some boys names marked, eeek! But now, I’d definitely not go that route.
People have asked me why I haven’t changed my name. Honestly, as much as a loathe my name and always try to help steer others from the “boy name on girls” thing… it’s me, it’s my name. I really can’t change at this point! That doesn’t mean I still don’t cringe when having to say my name or scream out in my head when I get mistaken for a male or get ribbed about Mike Tyson.