When I was 14 and thinking about transitioning, one of the names that came to my mind was Allison. I thought about Allison for a while, but as time went on, I became almost in denial about the fact that I’m transgender. In college—when I was gradually coming out—I became friends with a girl on campus who was part of the Queer Rights movement. Her name was Allison, so I decided that she was the Allison in my life. I didn’t need to be Allison.
Even before I came out, people would sometimes mishear my given name, Eric*, as Erica—they thought I was presenting as a girl. In high school, sometimes it was in a mocking way. I’d correct people, because I didn’t feel comfortable being out as myself at that point. But that was part of what influenced me to think, “They were seeing my feminine name would be Erica. I should make my name Erica.”
On October 11th, 2011, I finished a year-long contract at a job where I wasn’t out, so I thought it was a good time to start opening up. To reflect that I was in the process of becoming Erica, I referred to myself in my journal as Eric(a). It wasn’t until exactly a year later that I realized I’d come out to myself on what was widely known as National Coming Out Day. I’d never even heard of the day until I saw that my college was making a celebration of it.
I spent the next year doing what some people call real-life-testing; I was testing the waters, by being out on my college campus and not at home. I wanted to make sure I was serious before I permanently changed my life. On October 11th, 2013, I came out on Facebook as Erica. And while I’d begun the process of starting hormones earlier, it worked out that I actually started hormone therapy on October 11th, 2014. This was not intended or planned.
Amazingly, those are only some of many National Coming Out Day stories regarding my transition. I feel very passionately about these connections in my life, which I believe to be more signs than coincidences. As my doctor interpreted it, I am being blessed.
*In most cases, Story of My Name Project does not use peoples’ given names. However, with Erica’s permission, we used hers, because she felt it was central to the story.