Thoughts on being birth-named

First: updates on where I’m at with changing my name! I actually sent in the application for legal name change back when I was dealing with my work being a giant asshole about calling me by my chosen name. I got the application returned to me about six weeks later (in mid-late July) because I had somehow managed to get my own birthday wrong (oops…)

They were super good about it and sent me blank copies oft he pages I needed to redo (the one with the incorrect info, and a new sheet to get certified at town hall, plus a pre-addressed envelope so I could send it back when it was fixed.

It’s… still sitting waiting for me to get it done and sent back. I no longer feel such a rush to get it done, since I won my battle with work over the name, and there are now no major areas in my life where I am called anything but my chosen name. Things are fine, I am being respected, and I haven’t quite managed to work up the motivation to get myself to city hall.


I was thinking today about what it’s like for me to be called by my birthname (I don’t call it a deadname, possibly because it’s not quite dead yet, but also because I am retaining my old first name as my new last name, so to some extent it still is and always will be my name) at this point.

It’s complicated. I was mostly fine with being called by my birthname at work up until I went ahead and spoke up about it. Once it stopped being a thing that I had chosen, and the folks at work tried to wrest control of something as viscerally personal as my name, it immediately became a major problem. The weeks between me making my original request and finally managing to get the accommodation were extremely tough. I felt at best mildly nauseous when I was at work, and I wanted to be anywhere but there.

I have put an awful lot of work into reshaping my identity and my sense of self, and while changing my name was not a strictly necessary thing for me (in the sense that my birthname never, in and of itself, caused me distress, discomfort or dysphoria), it is one of the things I have chosen to do as a part of navigating my transition. And so, it is inextricably linked now to my sense of myself, who I am, and how I want to be perceived. And this vitally important. So, yes, as I further eliminate the remnants of my old name from my life, it becomes increasingly important to my emotional stability that people respect that effort, and call me by my new name.

Even though I have no bad associations with my birthname, it can still be upsetting to have it turn up unexpectedly.

It is upsetting to be called by my birthname simply because it is a reminder of work that I still have left to do. It is upsetting because I am not tireless, and sometimes I just want everything to be the way I need them to be, and they aren’t, and they might never be.

It is important, even though I don’t fit the standard trans narrative of hating my name and the gender it represents, even though I do not have gender dysphoria related to it. It is important as a symbol of the much larger process I am involved in. It is important because I have expended a lot of energy on it, and I don’t want to feel that was in vain – I don’t have that much energy to spare, after all.

It is important because I say it is. It upsets me because I say it does. It’s not up to others to understand, it is only up to them to respect that.


  1. I think there’s something to be said for the old belief that names are magic, even if it is the everyday magic of being a deep, direct link to who we are at our cores.

  2. *hug* thank you for sharing. Changing a name for reasons that don’t directly relate to my being trans have been difficult – adoption, marriage, divorce… Feeling like I don’t really identify with any of my names is like floating around with no anchor. There are some I identify more with because of context but I don’t think I’m ever going to feel like I belong with respect to my name. *shifts uncomfortably*

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