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Reasons to Change

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"Huh," Tucker said.

Wash looked up immediately. That was not a good 'huh'. "What?"

"Oh, I read this new statistic that approximately one in every ten people is transgender or 'gender non-conforming' - whatever that means."

"It means anyone who doesn't identify as the gender assigned to them at birth."

Tucker shrugged. "Anyway, there's technically ten of us in the canyon, including Lopez, which means statistically speaking, at least one of us has to be trans. I'm gonna find out who it is."

Wash frowned. "I don't like this."

Tucker rolled his eyes. "Whatever dude, you don't like anything fun. I bet it's someone on Red Team. I've seen everyone here already. The showers are amazing."

Wash sighed. "And I guess I should come with you to make sure you don't do anything stupid."

"Oh, come on, I have the perfect question to get them to tell me."


"So, Doc, why'd you change your name?"

"Huh?" Doc asked, looking up from the gurney. "Oh, I didn't. Frank is just what my foster family called me during those two years when I didn't talk and the state was dragging their ass trying to find my biological parents. It's also easier for English speakers to pronounce."

"English speakers?" Tucker asked.

"Yeah! My real name is Stiqayu."

"Yeah, I'm just gonna call you Steve."

"Or you could call me Frank."

"Uh-huh. What is that, anyway? Arabic?"

Wash smacked his forehead with his palm.

Tucker ignored him. "Were your parents immigrants? Ooh, were your parents terrorists?"

Doc gave him a very stern look. "It's Puget Sound Salish. My parents and I are Puyallup."

Tucker shook his head, face blank. "And that means...?"

"Native American," Doc said. "So, technically speaking, everyone else is an immigrant."

"Oooh," Tucker nodded. "Well, you know, the Native Americans had such a beautiful culture."

Doc stared again, then set down his scalpel and took a deep breath. "Yeah, I'm going to walk away now before O'Malley takes this opportunity to hurt someone."

"Oh, come on, dude, it was compliment."

Wash clamped a hand on Tucker's shoulder and nodded to Doc as he dragged him away. "No, Tucker, a compliment would be 'hey, I heard you tripled your native speaker base again in the last decade, congratulations' or 'hey, I heard that one bill that gives you back more of your original territory finally passed, I know your political and religious leaders worked hard for that, and I'm so sorry the US government is still so fucking shitty eight hundred years later.' Those are compliments. 'Hey, I thought your culture was completely wiped out because our government is still trying to commit any form of genocide they can'? Not a compliment."

"Well, how was I supposed to know any of that?"

"Asking is a good first step."

Tucker huffed. "Yeah, okay, whatever. I'm gonna go find Sarge. I don't think it's him, but I really want to know what his real name is."


"So, Sarge, why'd you change your name?"

Sarge just growled.

"Oh, come on! I just want to know what it is!"

"Trygve," Sarge grunted, cleaning his shotgun.

"Gesundheit. No, seriously, what's your name?"


"And... how do you spell that?"

"And that," Sarge cocked his shotgun and aimed, "is why I changed it."

"Time to go," Wash said.


"So, Donut, why'd you change your name?"

"Well," Donut said, beaming, "Sam Smith was just so boring, it didn't feel like me at all!"

"Oh," Tucker said, seemingly disappointed.


"So, Grif, why'd you change your name?"

"Well, I haven't yet, but it's on my to-do list."


Grif raised an eyebrow. "What? Look, if you had as shitty a dad as I did, you wouldn't want to be saddled with his name either. I'm just gonna cut it out, go by my middle name."

"Which is...?"

"Kaleikaumaka. Maka for short, I guess, though my... forced acquaintances will probably always call me Dex."

"Say that again?"

Wash sighed.


"So, Simmons, why'd you change your name?"

Simmons squeaked, eyes wide with terror. "I thought you weren't supposed to ask!"

Tucker grinned and leaned forward.

Wash clamped a hand down on his shoulder, a bit tighter than strictly necessary. "We're leaving. Now."

"What? Ow! Wash!"

"Now, Private Tucker."


As Tucker stepped out of the showers that night, he found Wash waiting on his bunk instead of his usual place three down. "Dude, I'm flattered, but I'm not gay."

Wash gave him a shrewd look. "Sit down, Lavernius."

Tucker raised an eyebrow and sat.

"I'm trans."


"I am a trans man."

Tucker laughed. "Yeah, sure, man, pull the other one. I've seen you shave and I've seen your dick."

"Hormone therapy and bottom surgery are things that exist." Wash tilted his head to a locked briefcase across the room. "That's my testosterone. I keep a surplus, but I'm going to run out if I can't get around this forged identity issue. At this point in my transition, physically, it pretty much just means my hips and thighs are going to get fatter, but the thought still makes me anxious."

"Okay, why are you telling me this?"

Wash huffed and shook his head. "I honestly don't know. You could, if you wanted to, make my life a living hell. But I do outrank you, and I could hurt you or kill you if it came down to that kind of question of my safety. And I suppose I've been out long enough not to care what bigots think."

Tucker stared.

Wash sighed and stood. "What you did today was pretty shitty. I can't make you apologize to Doc or Sarge or Simmons and mean it, but I'd like you to think about it."

"Yeah," Tucker said. "Hey, dude? If I could, I'd give you some of my testosterone."

Wash smiled softly. "Tha-"

"Yeah, you get kind of stabby and hysterical when you're anxious."

Wash stopped, bit his tongue, looked up at the sky, then down at the floor, then nodded to himself. "Yeah, okay. Good night, Tucker."

"Hey, that's progress for me!"

"Good night, Private."