It’s not really that big of a deal right? It’s just a toy right? Why does this particular toy cause me anxiety?
Earlier this summer I bought a Transformers War for Cybertron Kingdom action figure of Beast Wars character Rattrap. I bought him because of a couple reasons. First was nostalgia. I rooted for that character the most when I watched the old Beast Wars cartoon. It was the character I felt the closest to for obvious reasons. This pull towards nostalgia overpowered my better judgement leading me to buy the toy despite knowing it would cause me agony doing so.
The second reason I picked it up was impulse. It was a budget priced action figure for the toyline. I had the right amount of money on hand the day I came across it. I typically buy Transformers on impulse not to own them all but to bulk up my already massive collection. It was an easy purchase at the budget price too.
The toy itself is decent enough. In fact it’s a pretty good Rattrap figure to be honest. It resembles the version of the character I remember from the Beast Wars cartoon. It looks like a rat in beast mode, it looks like a formidable Maximal in robot mode. It comes with a single gun that attaches to it’s hip in rat mode or can be held in its hands in robot mode. It’s a pretty good quality toy for the price. Nothing to complain about so far.
Obviously as a transgender woman my issue lies in the part of my own past I try to ignore. It’s a part of me that keeps coming back as much as it causes me pain. My deadname was a cause for anxiety for a number of reasons. For starters there is the confusing part here I literally had three names that work as all three names. My first name could work as a first, middle or last name. Same for my middle name and yes my last name too. It was incredibly frustrating even when I had to wear the moniker because nobody ever got it right.
In the interest of clarity for my audience, not to be abused by trolls, I share my deadname. My three names were Allen. Richard. Todd. Not in that order but you can see how you can arrange them in any order and they still work. I knew a Todd Allen growing up. I met an Allen Richard, a Todd Richards and an Allen Richardson once. It was a nightmare. I hated it tremendously.
Okay Stephanie what does that have to do with Rattrap. Okay I am showing my hand here again on the trust you will show me respect. The other cause of anxiety surrounding my deadname was rooted in the very fact my initials spelled out the word rat. I was known as a rat my whole like. Or the rat. Or THE RAT, or La rata by my Spanish speaking friends. I grew to detest that moniker so much. Yet despite my hatred for the name I rather ironically embraced it. I used THE RAT in all my marketing. I called myself animecyberrat in certain internet circles. When I released music under my underground hip hop record label Mean Green Records in Salina, Kansas, I went by the name THE RAT. I used to tell people I was *THE* RAT, the one and only.
Today anything I can associate with my vomit inducing deadname causes me to feel sick. I detest it. I loathe it. I become belligerently angry towards anyone who intentionally refers to me as such. Yet because I was a journalist who wrote over 2500 articles under my deadname, precisely because I had to maintain consistency in branding, I have to share my disgusting deadname with potential employers on a daily basis. I have to log into HIS account on the journalism profile sight I use to keep track of the stories I wrote over the years. I have to share HIS LinkdedIN profile to get job interviews. I have to constantly tell people that was my OLD name and how it is not the name of my boyfriend, spouse or brother. It is incredibly frustrating.
SO what does this have to do with the Transformer Rattrap? Did you parse out why I gravitated to this character in the first place? I embraced anything related to rats. I did this because it was a part of my identity. This is where The Spiders lair came from. Rats, like spiders, are basement dwellers. It was a theme.
The reason I get anxiety from owning this toy is it is a reminder of a part of my life I want to scrub from my memory. However I also get joy, pleasure out of owning a toy of one of the characters I identified with fondly in my youth. Thus the anxiety. I detest the name, it reminds me of my past but I also like the figure, and the character it represents. I don’t know how to reconcile this other than keeping the toy on my toyshelf with the rest of the Transformers in the hopes it will blend in. If I could wipe THE RAT from my brain while continuing to enjoy Rattrap as a toy I could find peace. Until that time I am stuck here facing a dilemma I cannot solve.