Reply To: Names?



I had a female name I love (Kate–I know it’s common; it just fit for me) that I went by for years, but since I’m bi-gender, before I did a legal name change, I needed to find a name that worked for me in both genders. I actually did a lot of research! I looked at the most common names for boys and girls from my birth year, to try to identify something that fit my age and peer group well (look here to check by decade: ). I looked up lists of unisex names, etc. Whenever I found one that rang a little bell with me and that would work for both genders, I put it on my list. Then I narrowed down my list to a small number of top choices, ran those by friends and family for feedback and to see what associations they had, and then picked one that worked well and made me feel giddily happy. Even so, it’s taken me a long time to settle into this name–I think specifically because I use it in both genders! Fortunately, a name for just one gender is an easier process!

I’d recommend not choosing a name that’s too creative unless you want extra attention for it and people asking you to repeat it and spell it for them. I think names that are “too normal” are only a problem if you need to distinguish yourself with a public persona–for instance, I needed to choose a name that, together with my last name, was not the same as any prominent writer, so that my work wouldn’t get mixed up with theirs. This is not because I’ve had huge success with my writing–I’m still working on that!

I chose a middle name that was much more “out there” but that I love, and I get to have that available as a backup if I ever need it.

Oh, in case you’ve never done it, I want to make sure to mention that changing my name legally took a bunch of time, cost a bit of money, and was a lot of work–but it wasn’t burdensome after that. I didn’t too much mind filling out a bunch of paperwork, finding ways to fax court orders to some companies I have accounts with, running around to government offices, etc., and that was the worst of it for me. However, in less supportive areas or just if you run across one jerk, I could imagine it might be much more of an effort. I have a transguy family member who has decided not to change his name legally yet because of concerns about some of the people in his life and worry about persecution–although the recent election makes it seem like there might be less of that coming up! Anyway, I think just changing your use name and not changing it legally is a great option for a lot of people, too.

My biggest priority for a name is that when people use it for me, I feel affirmed in who I am–not only my gender but also my personality, my ethnic background, etc.

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