What's in a name?
To many of us trans* people, names are important. Unlike most cis* people, we have to choose our names because the names we were given (forced on us?) are not suitable. Very rarely do our parents give us a name we can keep; so that when we tell someone our legal name we are either misgendered or outed immediately.
It seems like there is always a post about names in the general trans* forums I read; recently, there is one asking for names that do not easily get “misheard” and transformed from masculine to feminine.
Many transition guides and trans* resources have posts with tips on choosing names. All sorts of advice is given; don't choose names that are currently trendy (Aiden/Ayden/etc), ask your parents to help, find meanings you like...
Names have power.
I've read a lot of fantasy where magic can be performed by knowing a person or object's true name; where people or demons can be controlled or destroyed by those with their true name.
Here, names have the power to out, to get you extra “random security checks”, to color peoples' gendered perceptions of you, etc.
I'll be changing my name later this week.
To Kristopher [current middle name]-Rivera [lastname].
I didn't exactly choose Kristopher; my friends sometimes called me Ristopher after I started going by my nickname Riss. I'm not Christian, but I liked the name and I felt like Kristopher...suited me somehow. Even friendly acquaintances who didn't know I was questioning said that Kristopher suited me.
Both of my grandmas have the same middle name, so my parents gave it to me—and I chose to keep it because I like it.
Rivera is for Sylvia Rivera, an amazing woman and one of the first trans* people I ever learned about.
With my real name legally recognized I'll be able to apply for college, jobs, etc. without (much) anxiety. I'll be able to attend classes without emailing the teachers to
begask to be referred to by my nickname.
There'll be less anxiety around my name, but now when I apply for a job I'll be more worried about my legal sex. Hopefully, they won't notice it or realize it's a mistake.
[I wrote the above last week. I went to court just the other day.]
I was extremely anxious about court; not everyone's name change is granted after all.
Luckily, it went without a hitch.
After going through security in my nice clothes and tie, I spent more time waiting (and listening to half a dozen divorces—and they say queer and trans* people will ruin marriage...) than actually in front of the judge. Seriously, he asked me why I wanted to change my name (personal preference and common usage) and if I was changing it for fraudulent reasons (err, no) then granted it.
Though according to my friend who drove me, whispers did break out in the seats when my case was called; I admit I wasn't paying much attention to them at the time...
And next I get to change my name on my BC and state ID and whatnot.