My name is Daphne Overbeck. I am from Roseland, New Jersey.
The year is 2013. It’s mid-February. I wake up at 7:00 AM in my ex’s place in Jersey City and I have to make it to a 9:30 AM logic lecture at NYU. So I have two and a half hours to get there. It takes about two hours. And I can’t possibly leave without putting on my full face first. I glue my brows down and hike them up to the hairline, get a good full contour going, overdraw my lip. And I draw – it was right here – a little star and I fill that in in yellow and then I put a little happy face on it. I threw on a car – it was a striped, a striped cardigan, a black and gray striped cardigan that I put a corset on top of and then, like, a pair of, like, trousers and these neon color block slingback Guess heels from DSW. This is a very characteristic scene of that era of my life.
I was in this relationship. I was going to school full time and NYU and I was pursuing a career in performance as a drag queen name Daphne Sometimes. My ex and I, we would go out after I would have a day of class and we would go and, you know, party until whatever hours of the night. I remember this one time we got into this horrible fight because I refused to get out of drag. And I just was so adamantly like, no, I don’t want to stop looking like this. We would get into these long discussions about her gender politics and ideas of how having grown up as someone who was assigned female at birth, how she had certain disadvantages that I, as someone who was assigned male at birth, did not have. In fact, I had advantages in those places and because of that, I would never be able to understand what it means to be a woman. And that’s a pretty classic tenet of trans-exclusionary feminism.
I held on to that for a long time as a reason,like, not to pursue being a woman anymore than when I was performing as a drag queen. So when I did finally break out of that relationship, because it was just too much for both of us and I don’t think either of us could handle it anymore, I was very lucky to fall upon a friend who also happened to be going through a breakup, who had another friend who is also going through a breakup. So I found the circle of friends and I quickly moved in with them and I finished college when I was living in that apartment with them.
You know, we’d be sitting on this couch and I’d be like, you know, one day, “Hey Jeremy, I kinda wanna go get some makeup that isn’t drag makeup and start, you know, maybe just like wearing makeup during the day. What do you think?”
“Yeah, girl. Go for it. You totally, you should. Like, I really think you should.”
Or, “So, Ragamuffin, I kind of want to go get these shoes and I know they’re women’s shoes, but I just don’t want to-”
“Girl. Do it. They’re so cute. You gotta do it.” These people would just like see me coming more into my own and encourage that.
One of those conversations on the couch – one of those late night after a few joints and a few beers from the bodega. I was nervous about this one.
I said, “Hey, Jeremy. I think that I wanna try hormones.” And of course, he was super encouraging and he was really excited. I think there – I’m pretty sure there was like a “about damn time” somewhere in there. A few weeks after that, I went to APICHA Community Health Center and they got me started and everything just, like, made sense.
By this time, I was still performing Daphne Sometimes. I had finished this drag competition in Hell’s Kitchen called, So You Think You Can Drag?” And it was the All-Stars season. They brought me back for one of my numbers. It was legends and divas was the category. And I just picked one of my favorite songs, Florence and the Machine, Dog Days Are Over. My a birth name was Doug. So it was the Doug Days are Over.
So there was a part where there is a [clapping], you know, that break down in that song. So during that part, I went to the side of the stage and I picked up my old ID that had my old name on it. And I had already changed my name at this point. I had already changed my name, my birth certificate, my social – everything had been switched over. So I took it out on the stage during that part, it was during the clap, and I just like cut that ID in half. And then the song just, like, erupts into this celebration.
I realized after that that I didn’t want to feel like a drag queen anymore. I didn’t want to feel like a man dressing up as a woman. I just wanted to feel like myself. So from that point on, I was no longer Daphne Sometimes but I made the choice to switch it over and ever since I have, been Daphne Always. Which feels like a promise. I’m Daphne. Always.
I look back on that, like, confused person walking through that park. And I don’t necessarily feel pity because I think I had to go through that to get to where I am now. But I am just so much happier and I care so much less about what other people think. And that’s one of those things that we hear from the time we’re children is, “Don’t care what other people think. Ba-ba-ba. Don’t – it’s – other people’s opinions don’t matter.” But I think that a lot of our lives is re-learning the same lessons over and over. I think learning that lesson that you live your life for you and you’re not living your life for what other people think of it. That difference has just, like, opened up a level of, like, happiness and confidence that I wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise.