Why should I have to change…

Someone wrote…

I like the name I was born with, and I wish people wouldn’t infer a gender from it. Why should I have to change my lovely name to fit others’ ideas of gender?

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on October 29th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 23 comments »

23 Responses to “Why should I have to change…”

  1. jean c.

    yup, I feel the exact same way….


  2. ElegantAndrogyne

    I got to like my [male] first name, but among friends, I like to use it with an unofficial female middle one I adopted after someone sent me a parcel with a mistaken name.


    Adelene replied:

    This is an awesome idea. I think I’ll steal it. :)


  3. Anonymous

    Sad. = \ I know what you mean….

    Unfortunately, most of the names in use today have been around and in use for hundreds upon hundreds of years, with a distinct division between male and female names. Really, if we want our names to not ring any gender bells, we’re just going to have to use or make up unisex ones. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t fault anyone else or society for associating my birth-name with the gender it’s always only been used for, because even -I- think that gender when I hear it.

    Just personally, though I’ve always liked my name, I’m happy to change it and glad I’m in a situation where I’m able to. It’s a completely unavoidable reminder of my biological gender.

    however, this -is- coming from someone who’s not gender-neutral. I’m distinctly 100% trans. Gender-neutral names are great, but I actually -like- names that everyone recognizes instantly as one or the other, because it’s just one more way I can stamp my identity onto myself and settle wondering minds.


  4. Popinjay

    I’ve been wondering about this also. I have a friend who is homosexual and he lives about an hour’s train journey away. I asked him if he could think of me and treat me as male and because I was clear about my ambiguous gender when we first started talking, he was cool with it. He still calls me by my birth name, but uses male pronouns. I find this worked really well and I’ll probably do the same thing with some of my other less local friends. Maybe you could try it as well? Hope this helped. :)


  5. Dez

    Yea, it’s a tough-un.

    My friend does this thing where he pretends his name is some foreign spelling that just so happens to sound like the american femme name.

    His birth name was Julia, but he things of it as Jeul Ya and sometimes goes by Lee. He does hope to change it eventually though. But if you like your birth name, you could always introduce yourself with a shortened, more masc version of it, and when people get to know you better they can call you the original name.

    Its a pain, but you might have to compromise for people who can’t break their internal binary structure.


  6. Adryrn

    I agree wholeheartedly. I like my name a lot and it’s almost always the only name I go by (barring internet interactions outside Facebook), but it has a definite feminine connotation and even though strangers might think I’m male, when people learn my name they assume I’m female. Since the possibility of gender neutrality doesn’t occur to most people, I wish my name didn’t give them a clear-cut gender identity to assign me.


  7. Jessica

    About the most gender neutral name for an English speaking person is, I think: Carol. As in Carol Burnett or Carol O’Connor. Wish my name were Carol.

    Another good name is Lynn, as in Lynn Redgrave or Lynn Dean.


    Keanan replied:

    It might just be me but I don’t imagine Carol or Lynn as a gender neutral name (though I knew of a male Lynn). I think a name more like Alex or Sam is gender neutral especially because I know cisgirls named Alex and Sam (and Charlie too).


    julian replied:

    I think that gender-neutrality of names is also dependent on location and time period… Like, in the American South the name Ashley was pretty gender-neutral until recently. Meredith was also a gender-neutral name.


    Keanan replied:

    True. The guy who played Ashley in Gone With the Wind was named Leslie. Now we (at least I) think of them as more female names but in the ’30s they were male names.

    Jessica replied:

    My sister Mary Susan was known in high school as Sam. Alex is pretty neutral. I like them all. Maybe I could be Carol Alex or Lynn Sam.


    Sean replied:

    Another good gender-neutral name is Jaimie. I read a book once where that was the name of the protagonist’s off-screen best friend. He was male, so I assumed that his friend was, too, and it was quite a surprise at the end when Jaimie turned out to be a girl. Somehow the author avoided ever using gendered pronouns without resorting to ‘they’.


  8. Jessica

    Leslie Howard was a great actor, not only in Gone With the Wind, but also in numerous other films. He was also the person responsible for Humphrey Bogart getting his big break in film and a war hero in WWII and at least according to some, an intelligence officer who was shot down while on a mission in 1943 by the German Luftwaffe. I always remember him fondly from the film adaptation of Pygmalion. Leslie is a traditional male name in Great Britain: It is of Scottish and Gaelic origin, and the meaning of Leslie is “holly garden”. Also possibly “the gray castle”. Place name and name of a prominent Scottish clan. Leslie has 6 variant forms: Les, Leslea, Leslee, Lesley, Lesly and Lezly.


  9. Jesse Valentine Portz

    My first and middle names, while predominantly are used for boys are also sometimes used for girls. While I was an androgynous child, it seemed appropriate that since my name was also a girls’ name if uncommon, I would keep it after my gender shift to being more femme. In some ways I am genderqueer in that I am somewhat in the middle, but am much more comfortable living my life as a woman than I ever was living it as a man.
    To be the same person, same name with a different visible gender felt so much more real and radical to me. Still, it took much research to convince my self that my name was androgynous enough. I finally made peace with it.


  10. Eli

    I had been getting bummed about this for a while. I tried to choose a male name that I felt I could identify with, but it was tough and I never felt comfy. I mean, I identify with my female name, but I wished my full name had a way to yield a masculine nickname.

    It wasn’t until I brought this up with a superbly perceptive and honest friend that I got the feedback I never realized I needed: that Elizabeth can quite easily be shortened to “Eli.”

    I don’t have to give anything up now :)


    sam replied:



  11. kendall

    I have my more male or neutral first name, kendall, it’s a keeper but I feel limited for middlenames starting with R, I want to keep the same initials and I like reese and riddick because kendall richard would be awful because in my head all I’d hear would be ken doll dick and thats no good. And roger, my uncle and grandfathers name is already being used but, more importantly it would make me kenny roger and thats just wrrrong
    Riddick is too vin diesel fan boy, and reese apparently makes people think of chocolae, what’s in a name, eh tu brute?


    Anonymous replied:

    I think you should go with what you like – personally, though, I’m a fan of Reese – who cares if it makes ppl think of chocolate? That’s not exactly a negative association. Also, have you considered the traditional Welsh spelling Rhys? That might help you avoid the chocolate association. Although honestly, when are people ever going to find out your middle name unless you tell them? Your middle name is for you, so pick whatever makes you happy.


    Anonymous replied:

    what about kendall ryan? or…


    just a few ‘r’ suggestions that don’t sound half bad, in my opinion. whatever works for you is best, of course. just wanted to offer assistance.

    good luck. i’m struggling with my own name choices as well.


    Samson replied:

    If you’re going for traditionally-considered-androgynous, there’s also


  12. kendall

    I would probably just sign things as K R *lastname* like i do now, I have my signature down, and its would be minimal change though effective change, I just feel like a middlename makes things stronger and official

    Ryan is good but very common

    radcliffe makes me think well of loneliness and if I were a straight man I’d want to cut some of my dyke ties, which is sad but true

    Robert I dont like much, dont know why, I think cause in my head I hear bob

    And I have a cousin ross, I thought about russ…Well, Russell before too. I have possibilities I just need time I think. Much appreciated though, I went through babybooks and everything to figure it out, I just need to think some more I guess.


  13. kendall

    @ samson

    Riley = a transguy the girl I’m in love with used to date, and then my ex also dated..
    Robin = my kitty cat < 3 we named a persian after a bird cause we're funny
    Rowan = my exbestfriends daughter I helped raise for 2 years before the friendship ended in a messed up way–though I do love the names they just belong to other people


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