Question: MY Name

A reader asks…

How do I tell my parents that *I’m* choosing my new name and that I don’t care what they would have named me? They named me once, now it’s my turn.

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «

Posted by on April 8th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 28 comments »

28 Responses to “Question: MY Name”

  1. Anonymous

    If you’re on good terms with your parents, a slightly politer version of what you just said. If not, EXACTLY what you just said should suffice.


  2. Ruth

    Hopefully, with a little bit of tact. Do realize that they may well suffer some over this, and try your best not to increase *anyone’s* suffering. “Coming out” in any of the ways that we commonly use it these days is at its’ heart a somewhat selfish process–“I’m doing this for me, because it’s right for me.”–and that’s okay, but deliberately being hurtful to others in that process is *not* helpful to anyone. So don’t, if you can help it. It’s bad karma, and doesn’t help yourself or anyone like you to be accepted/respected any better.

    Even as trans-friendly as I am–since I am a transwoman–if you said it to me that way, you’d get disowned in about 0.3 seconds, just for its’ spectacular rudeness. Find a kinder way.


  3. Lyn Aven

    I dunno, I used to use the name they would have given me, ‘n I AM using the middle name. ‘n I have another trans friend who had picked out her own name and then after discussing with her parents decided she liked theirs better anyway. Tactfully, then, I’d say to at least hear what they have to offer and take it under consideration, but be sure to (politely!) assert that the final decision is yours alone.


  4. Adisson

    When my parents named me, My mother gave me my first name (it’s also her name), and my father gave me my middle name (which my nickname comes from). So when I chose my own name, I chose a first name that would give me the same nickname as my given-middle name, and a middle name that was derived from my mother’s name. Same principles as my given name, just more androgynous. ^_^;; They don’t know that this is my chosen name yet, since they just call me by my nickname anyway, but I hope that when it does come up, that they will be accepting since I tried to be as respectful about it as possible.



  5. Frankie

    Stress that it’s about finding a title that’s comfortable for YOU, and doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on their choice.

    I go by a version of my middle name to make the transition less awkward. It is really uncomfortable though, my parents were offended and treated it like a phase. Just make sure you’re happy with your future name before you talk to them seriously about it.


  6. Milo

    I have the same problem. My mom won’t call me by my chosen name. Keep trying though. I think eventually, they’ll come around.


  7. Samson

    I forked my name my own way–I’m genderqueer, I like the name my parents gave me, and I decided that it was stupid that society gets to tell me what names go with what genders. I like my name and I’ll attach it to whatever gender I damn well please.

    Incidentally my first name is feminine, my middle name is an androgynous name with a feminine spelling, and my last name is a masculine first name. So I just let people call me whatever, and some people pick my last name of their own accord. Either way it’s cool by me–they’re all my names.

    Anyway–sorry for the soapbox moment–I’m with Ruth. Even if you don’t care what they would’ve named you, it might be at least interesting and considerate to hear their opinion and consider it. A name can be a gift from your family–you don’t have to keep it but sometimes it’s a more meaningful gift than you thought.


  8. Jones

    politeness only gets you far if you want to live within dominant constructs. Revolt! Tell em you don’t care, and you’re going to change or add to your name as you please. I’m so sick of brown nosing the hetero mainstream to have some room to move, just take the room you need and run with it. Change your name to what you’d like, and tell your parents its your turn to make the rules.


  9. megan

    i asked my mom what she should have named me but she didn’t have any answers for me. you can politely say that you had a name in mind but thank thank her for caring.


  10. Jessica

    I always remember the film A Thousand Clowns. The main character and his nephew had a deal – the nephew could pick any name he liked and change it as often as he wanted to, but when he turned 13 he had to pick one that would stick. “He went through a long period of dog names when he was little, with King and Rover having a real vogue there for a while. For three months he referred to himself as Big Sam. Then there was Little Max, Snoopy, Chip, Rock, Rex, Mike, Marty, Lamont, Chevrolet, Woodrow, Lefty, the Phantom. He received his library card last Summer in the name of Rafael Sabatini. His Cub Scout membership lists him as Dr. Morris Fishbein. Nick seems to be the one that will stick.”


  11. themarxistbagel

    I guess it depends on what you’d like your relationship with your mother to be in the end. These responses all have valid points, but the way you need to judge which is best for you is by determining how your mother will react, and what path that will force you down.

    It sounds like you’d like respect from your mother, therefore you need to respect her and try to explain the name change to her in a polite and compassionate way, trying to educate her without making her feel stupid or confronted. Sometimes a compromise is necessary.

    If your number one priority is to be rid of your birth name, and this is so important that the repercussions are worth bearing, then follow Jones’ advice. Bear in mind that people generally treat you with the same courtesy you treat them. If you demand change (in an, ironically Marxist fashion – as much as I do love Marxism), you will receive resistance under most circumstances and you will likely have to separate yourself from your family some.

    I’m not sure of the OP’s age, but if you still live at home, doing the latter option could make things quite tricky. Since I don’t know your homelife situation and I don’t know how vital this name change is for your well being, I can’t tell you which tactic is best for you. I just urge you to thing of the pros and cons of each, and then form a game plan from there. For some people, rebellion is the only way, but for most, having their family still there in the end is the favourable choice.


  12. nick

    I have to express my sympathy for the parents here. Most parents get to name their child, and being denied that can be painful.
    Personally, I let me parents rename me when I changed my gender. It meant a lot to them and I wear the name with pride becuase it represents both who I am and where I come from.
    Chosing your own name isn’t a crime, but go easy on your parents. It’s not easy for a parent.


  13. Jak

    When I changed my name, I sat down with my family and politely explained it to them and what it meant to me. Then I told my closest friends, then I made an announcement on LJ to everyone else. As long as you’re not aggressive/defensive about it, it should be ok. If your family does get the arsehole with you, it may well be the shock but it should calm down.

    The other thing I’d suggest is be patient. It will take people a little time to get used to the change so just politely correct anyone who gets it wrong.


  14. Alex Snö

    I’m going to change my name too. Not because of gender issues but because I simply don’t like me. My mother told me how dissapointed she is that I’m just gonna throw away the name she has given me. It’s not my fault my mother likes very long and too feminine, aristocratic, Russian names.

    Jesus fuck.


  15. Lilybean

    Start off explaining politely and the mroe they oppose you, the firmer you get. You should only be rudely forcful if it becomes obvious that they won’t let you live your life your way.


  16. Kab

    My only advice to you, as I have already changed my name, is don’t do what I did and compromise to make people happy then regret it about a week later…it sucks, bigtime!


  17. soon to be Jesse

    I haven’t told my parents yet. I’m sure my mom won’t mind because she’s gone by 6 different names in her life. My dad on the other hand…he’s already not too fond of me…

    I guess it’s one of those things, how do I say this, where they’re gonna know sooner or later. If it’s got to be done, it’s going to be done, and some things are just hard to say but have to be said eventually. I think I’m just going to be matter-of-factly, but not rude. It is what it is. Hope this makes sense.


  18. Jessica

    I think Fathers have the toughest time with MTF and Mothers with FTM. I conjecture that this is because they can’t help feeling that their child is saying in effect, “Gee, you were such a crappy role model for me that I don’t even want to be the same gender as you.” I know that’s not (or shouldn’t be) the point of the transgender exercise, but feelings don’t care about what will or what should be.


  19. Anonymous

    In my experience (and the many trans-identified people I know), fathers have the most trouble with FTM. “Daddy’s little girl,” ring any bells?


  20. Keanan

    In my case (being FTM) I think my mum is having a harder time with my future transition. You could kinda say I was “daddy’s little girl” but I never was really “his little girl”. I was always just his kid. But the same idea I reckon. He just wants me to be happy though and he knows I’ll always be his kid and nothing can change that.

    As for this topic, I haven’t changed my name yet and I don’t usually go by my chosen name. When I told my parents about it though they had mixed feelings (at least that I can remember, a lot was going on). My chosen name, Keanan, is one that I like, the male version of my given name, only two letters are switched from my legal name, and my parents would have named me that if I was born male. As for middle names, I really don’t like my middle name (uber feminine). I am trying to find a male or gender neutral name that has the same meaning (given there is not really a male version of it). I want more than one middle name so I am going to choose a name that means a lot to me such as my favorite musicians (which my parents were thinking about having my middle name as anyway). I might have my middle name be a family one that I would have had if I was born male.

    Anyway, I think you need to be calm and patient with your parents (I know exactly where you are coming from though). I think the others have very good advice too. Maybe making a list of possible names and having their input on them.


  21. William

    My mother was patient with me through quite a few names. But she wanted to help choose my legal name when I finally transitioned. She wanted to involve the family. So I tried to get them involved. I made shorter and shorter shortlists and tried to discuss it with them and they just wouldn’t take it seriously, couldn’t understand that it was so important to me. I already had a boy’s name, couldn’t I just live with that one for a bit longer? But I wanted the right name, I wanted MY name and she wanted to be involved in finding it. I made it clear that the final decision was going to be mine, made it clear that I had NO intention of being named Kieran just because a freak accident of nature meant I wasn’t named that 20 years ago.. I tried to get her interested and involved. The shortlist was three names long. The middle names had been decided. I was going to be Edmund, Benedict or William.. And the discussion never happened because I was already William. The only way I avoided hurting my mother was letting her decide how to shorten my name. So now I’m not her daughter Birthname, I’m her son Liam.


  22. Jessica

    @Keanan OK, so what’s this uber feminine middle name? Trying to think of fem only names, Hyacinth? Felicia?

    I have to admit a guilty secret, for a man I have always like the name Atticus, as in To Kill a Mockingbird.


  23. Keanan

    @Jessica- My legal middle name is Catherine. It’s a family name so I want something with the same meaning. I think Atticus is a cool name.


  24. Quince

    @Keanan: I always thought the male of Catherine was Kenneth, or at least that’s what I’ve been told.


  25. Shay

    Hey, I just looked up Catherine’s meaning (“pure”) in, and here are the guy names it came up with:
    YU JIE
    I hope that helped maybe.


  26. Quince

    @Shay: I want to change my name to Galahad now. *Amazing*


  27. Keanan

    @Quince- I’ve never heard that before. Interesting…
    Galahad is a very cool name too. I added it to my list of possible middle names.

    @Shay- Thanks. I like Zacchaeus because of the origin, meaning, and uniqueness/coolness.


  28. Anonymous

    I had to choose between a variation of my middle name = Frankie or a nickname (b/c I’m a ginger) = Rusty

    If I was a boy I was supposed to be named Russell, so I’ve always leaned towards Rusty or Rus, but I think it’s too masculine for my parents.

    I just hope Frankie isn’t too feminine.

    This name business is hard. It’s one thing to be stuck with one, and another to choose your own from a world of possibilities. I had to give myself boundaries or I would end up being Ignatius.


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