There are so many wonderful aspects of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. There’s the compelling story, the brilliant acting, and the life-changing songs. For these reasons alone, I will forever be grateful to Mr. Miranda for sharing this gift with the world.
But I have other, even greater reasons to be grateful to Mr. Miranda. After listening to the Hamilton soundtrack for the last few months, I have been able to do something that I was unable to do before and that I thought I would never be able to do again. Since I have been listening to Mr. Miranda’s brilliant soundtrack, I have become able to hear my transgender child’s birth name.
Choosing names for my children was one of the most awesome responsibilities I ever had. I decided to research names practically the minute I got pregnant and much to my husband’s chagrin, poured over lists for the entire 9 months. I mean, this was the name I believed my children would have forever. Long after the brightly colored, animal shaped letters that spelled out their names on the doors came down in favor of Fall Out Boy and Dr, Who posters, their names would remain. While their every belonging was no longer personalized with paint pens, their names remained.
And then seemingly without any time to get used to the changes that came with it, the name I agonized over choosing for my child was gone. Just like that. Gone from my lips as I was instructed to never utter it. Gone from my eyes, as I wasn’t to write it anymore. And gone from my ears as I ceased to hear it. But it never left my heart and every time I did hear it by accident, it was devastating. I embraced my child’s transition with a level of openness and love that sometimes took my breath away while simultaneously surprising me. You really never do realize how strong you are until being strong is your only option. When your child’s safety, health, and happiness are your only priority, transition is easy. But losing the name you came to associate with every facet of your child is a level of grief I was unprepared to handle. For two years, I have been unable to find any joy in hearing my child’s birth name. Simply hearing it was a reminder that I was grieving a living child and trying so hard to catch up with the “new normal” that I worked so hard to create.
And then it happened. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton took Broadway, and the Gordon Family, by storm. And although my first reaction was, “why couldn’t he have married Angelica?,” I soon found myself singing. I was singing my child’s birth name and it had in no way referred to my child. The relief I felt was nothing short of breath taking, and not because I can’t carry a tune. I was relieved because I wasn’t sad and it was that simple. I needed to realize that the wonderful name my child chose for himself when he transitioned was his name. The name I chose for him at birth was a temporary place holder until he began to live authentically. And while I so sure I would never have a place for his birth name in my life, Lin-Manuel Miranda brought Hamilton to life and once again, I found joy in the name I had originally named my child.
I can say his birth name and not feel my eyes well up with tears that I thought were done flowing. I can now sing “The Schuyler Sisters” without having to pretend it is “Bingo” and clap over that one name. I can hear Alexander Hamilton sing to his bride and be happy while enjoying the music. When Angelica sings about the fateful night she introduced Alexander to her sister, I sing along loudly, “At least I keep his eyes in my life.” This is so meaningful to me because I can tolerate the feeling that yes, the birth name I chose for my child is still a beautiful name and even though I no longer use it to mean my child, I can still keep this name in my life.