What’s Your Name? Dakota or Shain?

I was born on Friday, February 22, 1991 at 10:34 PM. My mother had toxemia extremely bad and the doctors performed an emergency Cesarian. As such, I was very premature, weighed only 1 lb, 6 oz, and was twelve inches long. The doctors told my family I wouldn’t live through the night, let alone ever reach adulthood.

Obviously, I just had to prove those all-knowing physicians wrong.

My parents named me Dakota Shain. Dakota was chosen because they just liked the name after discovering it because of Dakota Johnson. Yes, Dakota Johnson of Fifty Shades of Grey fame. My parents were freaks who both have admitted to knowing the exact night I was conceived. So between them and being named after Dakota Johnson, it’s no wonder my mind is always in the freaking gutter.

Shain, I’ve been told, was chosen because my Mum wanted to name me Dakota James but my Dad wouldn’t let her, so they found Shane, which means “God saved,” totally felt it appropriate and self-fulfilling, and changed the spelling to reflect the spelling of my Da’s middle name, Dwain.

I went my whole life as Dakota, correcting the teachers and all the other people who mispronounced my middle name. Fast forward some odd years, and I get the same thing in my college classes. Only, this time it felt extra important to me. Why?

Because it was Hearing ASL interpreters who were mispronouncing it. My middle name isn’t pronounced Shawn. Don’t try and call me Cheyenne or Shania either. It’s Shain, emphasis on the ai, kinda like you’re telling somebody to shut the fuck up and listen to the rain.

That bugged the shit out of me. We’re in college and I know Shane is a common enough name that people know how to say it. And I’ve gotten plenty of people throughout my life who’ve asked if I spell it with an E. Naturally, I corrected them, just as I informed the interpreters of the correct pronunciation. This time things changed. Everybody took it as my wanting to be called Shain over Dakota. Even my Hearing professors. I shrugged and rolled with it.

After all, as interpreters, we’re told to make things as easy as possible on our clients, and since that resulted in less confusion and having one less letter to fingerspell, I didn’t figure it was a problem. Now, being a part of the Deaf Community, I’m introduced as Shain, it just sticks. When somebody from my Hearing ring who isn’t a part of the Deaf community meets somebody from the Deaf community, I have to clarify things. With y’all though, I couldn’t do it as easily, hence this post.

So, what’s my name? Byrd. Dakota Shain Byrd. And don’t give me a beard either, because I’ll flip you the bird, which is exactly how you pronounce my last name, not beard. Byrd. Like the crazy hyper, sometimes annoying animal. And yes, Potterheads, even my patronus is a bird–a Magpie.

Hope this helps clarify things. Y’all have a great day!

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