I began my writing career with no expectation that I would ever change my name. It was short, it was easy to spell, and I had the best of all possible initials for a science fiction writer. As my stories began to sell, my name appeared in steadily more prestigious places. First an internal table of contents, then the cover of Analog — I fully expected to see it on the cover of a novel and maybe, someday, on a list of award nominees.
I knew I was trans when I started writing. I figured that part out in college, all at once, in a moment of lightning-strike clarity the first time I found out that trans men exist. But first I was in Iowa, and then I was in Kansas, and I thought I would live and die in the closet.
(“But what if you got married?” The odds that any hypothetical husband could have a last name that was cooler than “Frost” are so small as to be unworthy of mention.)
There is never enough air in a closet. It stifles, and smothers. No room to stretch out, no way to truly rest. There is no solitude in a closet, only the terrible isolation of fear. I lived in California for a year before I realized that I could leave — that I wanted to leave — that I would die if I stayed in there any longer.
However, transitioning meant picking a new name (though you will note that I have kept my initials, which are still the best possible for a science fiction writer). Now I am left with a bunch of really nice publishing credits, all under a name that I no longer answer to — one that is, to a degree, painful to hear.
Now I start again, I suppose. I am publishing a collection of my short works under my real name, to provide a connection from my old self to my stories and then to me. The links should be in my bibliography, which should also be linked here at some point. For now, I’m going to treat it as a discarded pen name.