What’s in a name?

I asked a friend to review my blog today. They read for a while and then stopped to ask me, “Hey, why do you write your name with an asterisk?”

Good question.

As you might be able to tell from looking at me, I’m still early on in the process of transition. While I am out as transgender to my family and some of my friends and coworkers, I still haven’t legally changed my name or gender markers.

Why?

Well, it isn’t because I’m not legally able to or don’t have the inclination. I haven’t changed my name yet because even though my family is aware of my identity, they are still coming to terms with it. They love me and support me, but this change has not been easy for them. The idea of me changing my name strikes them as especially difficult.

When a trans person transitions, their family members often feel a sense of personal loss or grief. Most parents report going through a period of mourning, even though their child isn’t actually dead. The person they knew is passing away and being replaced with someone else. This sensation often worsens when their trans child begins to go by their new name, so while I’ve discussed changing my name with my mother, and while she is receptive, there will be other conversations to come. She’s still feeling that sense of loss, and I want her to have time to process that emotion. When she’s ready, I will ask her and my father to choose my new name.

Maybe you’re wondering, “Hey, you’re a grown person, why not just go ahead and choose a name yourself?” Well, some trans people certainly go that route, but in my eyes, our names are gifts our parents give us. I know that my parents carefully crafted my birth name to be beautiful and meaningful. I want to give them the opportunity to do that again, with my male name. I feel that this is also a healthy way to involve my parents in the process of transitioning because it shows I value their opinions and are sensitive to their feelings.

So, until they decide on what they’d like to call me, I’m using a masculine form of my birth name, with an asterisk, to denote that eventually my name will change.

Thank you for reading.

Much love,

Oliver*

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