Not much more than a year ago, I posted about the fifth anniversary of being diagnosed as autistic. In that spririt, I note that today in 2018 I filed the legal paperwork to change my name to Bix. At that point it effectively had been my name for more than two decades in all but that legal sense, primarily thanks to the internet.
Originally having chosen the online handle “slowdog” when signing up for an internet BBS in 1993—after the Belly song because I’d felt like I was “five-plus years behind where I was supposed to be”—that later in a fit of pique at my life by that name became “baby-X” (with first a brief detour into “punkdog”) after the title of a photograph by an apartmentmate in college.
That often through usage shortened to “bx”, which then became the pronunciation “bix”, which then due to the vagaries of quasi-leetspeak became “b!X”, which then I think due to the habits of my regular IRC channel at the time raiding people using my preferred nick to tell them they weren’t “the one true bix” became, in fact, “The One True b!X”—a moniker I used when publishing Portland Communique and even managed to get an early-2000s Oregonian profile of that work to use as its default when referring to me.
(This all, understand, during a period when my dominant community group was that internet BBS, whose members socialized both online and off and typically used our online names even offline. Outside of family, for years I only ever was “dog” and, then, “bix”. Even outside that initial online/offline community, “Bix” became who I was to anyone and everyone, especially thanks to the three years I published Portland Communique.)
My local Twitter archive reminds me that I was in late December 2017 fundraising at my eponymous, pseudonymous website and that site provides me with the answer to why I’d even made the decision.
After decades of use, it’s time for "b!X" to become legal. (Well, technically, "Bix", as they disallow punctuation.) At this point, it is a form of self-care, as I weary of hearing, e.g., cashiers and bartenders refer to me in effect by someone else’s name. Name changes require fees, though neither many nor much. Help legalize "b!X" at the start of the new year?
I’m sure, thinking back, that my autism diagnosis not much more than a year prior also was a contributing factor.
Diagnosis, I’ve argued, forces something of a retcon and reconsideration of one’s life to that point, and having spent 2017 taking on that new framing and self-context, it makes sense that I’d then take every opportunity I could to re-present how I represent myself to the world.
I’d told the person who diagnosed me that the immediate impact was suddenly having mental boxes to put things in: this is the autism, that’s the anxiety, and the other is the OCD. In a way, this was the same; a sort of Bix box, something I’d built myself to defend against those defined by others.