My Name is Katie
Katie is a thirty-something-year-old trans female located in a small North Yorkshire town, where she lives alongside her partner and a somewhat persistent, and very vocal, cat. Katie is a writer and musician, and over recent years has performed a number of gigs with her band throughout the UK.
There is a moment before the rain comes when all the world seems to pause. It’s a blink-and-you'll-miss-it-moment. Except all you have to do is listen. And somewhere from far away, a strange voice is calling, then the wind stirs and there are broken leaves scattered around your feet. Scorched parchment, run through with ruptured veins that convey no life. And then the water beats down all around you, and a semblance of yourself is shimmering in reflected light on the surface of the road, buoyant on an ashen tide that eddies down the drain and into an infinite, underworld abyss where words and names have no meaning.
And then a voice, unlike the one from before, undeniably human this time, says, “Now then, mate. Good show last night!” And a hand heartily slaps you against the chest, not once but twice. The hand doesn’t strike against rigid pectoral muscle but something soft instead, something which only you and the keenest of observers would know is there. It’s painful, though not excessively so; but most of all it’s an act of displacement. And in that moment, looking through the rain at the stranger, you see yourself suddenly staring upwards at the world above from that aching abyss below the earth. And water is pouring through the drain cover and over your face, and soaking into your clothing so that the subtle circumference of your breasts now can be viewed even by the most casual observer; except no one happens to be looking your way.
“Thank you,” you say. And other words spill out between the two of you, but it’s a conversation built with a skeletal frame on a foundation that could never last beyond a few, measured intakes of breath. Then, poof, it’s gone with the wind. And so is the stranger. So are you.
"My name is Katie," I say. And as I do so, I notice a model—a little larger than life-size and attainably attractive—smiling down at me from a shop window. Her breasts are ampler than mine, her lips a little fuller. Her hair is flowing behind her as though a heavy gust of wind were blowing. Beyond her, inside where it is dry and warm, the silhouettes of shoppers lithely flit about. It’s almost closing time and everyone is thinking of home and of how they’re likely going to get wet on the way there. I’m already wet, so it hardly matters to me.
Nobody knows my name. The man from before never knew it. I turn and watch him scuttle off with head bowed against the downpour, and I wonder whether I would remember his face if I saw it again in a week, six months, a year. Would he remember mine? Did he even register how different I now looked from the old photos of me inseminating social media in advance of last night’s performance? I doubt it. I doubt that people have the time, energy, or inclination to notice the subtleties that abound all around them.
I hate those old photos, by the way. Snapshots of a me from—what—three, four years ago? A me that never existed in the first place. But that’s the me that still exists all over the online world (that infinitesimal part of it I inhabit), spilling over into the physical realm like lava from the volcano’s summit. A liquescent, petrifying inferno that can neither be outpaced nor abated. That’s me in the photo, me with the rigid pectoral muscles so-subtly showing through my tight-fitting T-shirt. Me with the uncompromising buzzcut hairstyle, and muscular, veiny arms conveying a life of sorts that burns like slow-acting poison. Guitar in hand. Screaming endlessly into that void: that solemn, empty world beneath one’s feet where words and names have no meaning, and it’s okay to be yourself but it doesn’t really matter anyway. Nobody’s ever looking your way.
My name is Katie, but nobody knows my name.