What’s in a name?

About two weeks ago I came out to my parents. Understandably, they weren’t thrilled. However, they did seem to understand. What’s more, they seemed to understand things better than I could have hoped for.

Mum remembered how things went downhill for me once I hit puberty. She asked about the suicide attempts (or rather failed suicides – and yes, that’s plural), and if they had anything to do with my gender dysphoria.

When I told them my chosen name, Dad seemed to like (well sort of “like”) the idea that I’d chosen to adopt his great great grandfather’s name.

They both had lots of questions, and none of them nasty. All in all, they seemed quite accepting and supportive.

I, of course, asked them to call me by my chosen name from that moment on, and to refer to me using male pronouns.

Today, as we were visiting Mum and Dad, however, they kept calling me by my given name, and referring to me as “their girl”. It hurt.

Names are powerful. I’ve been unhappy with my given name for as long as I can remember. In fact, unhappy is a eufemism.

I like the name I’ve chosen for myself. I deliberated over my new name for a very long time, as I wanted my name to reflect my personality. At the same time, I also wanted my new names (I chose three new names to replace my three given names) to reflect how deeply I care about my family, my ancestors. Without them, I would not be.

No, I did not stand up to my parents about not using my chosen name. Not today. Dad had surgery yesterday and was still feeling kind of hungover from the anaesthesia. Call me soft, but I just couldn’t do it.

I hope next time they will remember to call me by my chosen name. If not, I may have to remind them – and make clear to them how much it hurts when they call me by the wrong name. That’s not something I look forward to.

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17 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Liam – hang in there. and be firm when it feels right. My mom for maybe the first month or three kept using my birth name and saying things like you will always be my little girl. It felt like she was digging her heels in and not respecting me. it hurt and pissed me off. I got diligent about reminding here and being clear about how it feels when she does that. Today, 8 months later, she rarely gets it wrong. sometimes she does, but hey sometimes I get it wrong too… It does take time and it takes firmness, clarity and self respect. I hope they come around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sky. I just went back to your blog and read your post about coming out to your parents. I read it before, but wanted to read it again. It’s amazing how similar our experiences with our parents are re. coming out as a lesbian first and as transgender later. I’m encouraged by your words and your experiences.


  2. Marjo says:

    Mooi dat het gesprek zo goed is verlopen. Dat is de eerste stap. Maar nu moeten ze het zelf nog allemaal verwerken en je langzaam gaan zien met je nieuwe naam en nieuwe identiteit. Daar zal best wat tijd overheen gaan. Wees geduldig en help hen erbij. Ook je vrienden en vriendinnen zullen je nog wel eens bij de verkeerde naam noemen en de verkeerde persoonlijke voornaamwoorden gebruiken. Niet omdat ze je pijn willen doen, maar omdat het ook voor hen een waanzinnige shift in denken is. Knuffel!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha! Je dekt jezelf vast in hè? =P
      Natuurlijk zul je je weleens vergissen. Da’s ook helemaal niet erg. Ik moet er zelf ook nog aan wennen, maar elke keer dat iemand mij met mijn nieuwe naam aanspreekt, voelt dat gewoon zo ongelooflijk goed. Dat kun je je gewoon niet voorstellen. Eindelijk een naam die echt bij mij past.


  3. krisalex333 says:

    “Names are powerful” – so true. I use my chosen name online only, as I am not transitioning openly, but find the need for others to use this name, increasing. I guess I’ll have two personalities for the rest of my life. I am SO happy that the process of telling your parents at least is over. Like genderneutral says, hang in there. Older folks take much longer to accept change, especially if their hearts are involved. At least they love you – so many of us trans people face rejection from our loved ones. Take care and keep us updated. Looking at Marjo’s comment – do you know Dutch?!
    Kris (how I revel in being able to write this name!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kris, Marjo is one of my RL friends, and one of the first persons I came out to. I love her to pieces. She’s a great friend. We’re both Dutch. I went to have a good look at your profile and noticed you’re from South Africa, which explains how you knew it was Dutch and how you could understand what Marjo wrote. 🙂
      I think I’d hate to have to live as two personalities for the rest of my life. That must be really hard for you.


  4. Lesboi says:

    I completely underestimated how difficult it would be to get people to start using my new name and I really feel your angst here. It’s only been a few months since I asked a select group of people to use the new name yet it feels like they’ll never come around about it. I’ve gone through some pretty depressing periods around how hard this is and how frustrating it is when people don’t seem to be making an effort to acknowledge your choices and decisions. I even get frustrated with myself for slipping up or not correcting people. I think the lesson here is patience and diligence. Change takes time (patience) and practice (diligence). Gentle, firm reminders are all that is necessary to correct most folks. Good luck and enjoy your new name.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry the people you asked to use your new name haven’t been very cooperative yet. That hurts. Thankfully, my partner is really good about using my chosen name – and I’m getting better and better at ignoring my given name. My children have started calling me Dad, and are being really good about it too. There’s others too, who are really making the effort. It might seem like a little thing, but it means such a lot to me. I feel really blessed with how well most of the people I came out to are handling all of this.


  5. Claire says:

    Great news about your parents and being a parent I know how difficult the name change is, it took me over a year to use jakes name, instead I avoided using any name or pronouns, possibly more difficult but it was my way of coping, even though my head still screams Jess, I’m able to say Jake, you may just have to tell them how it makes you feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Claire. Yes, the name change is definitely difficult for my parents. My being transgender is even more difficult for them, but even so, they are dealing with it way better than I could have hoped for.


  6. dexxwizard says:

    It is great to read about the acceptance you have received, I am sure in time your parents will get used to your new name, as you said your father has just had surgery and it must be difficult for them. But great to see thinks moving forward for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Apoetie says:

    I do understand it hurts when you´re not called by your chosen name, Yet, you’re not the only one who’s suffering, Your family is suffering too, please understand suffering is not only your personal right, people who are different from you, but who love you have emotions that are just as strong as yours. We don’t want to hurt each other, but it happens. If your family wouldn’t love you so much it wouldn’t hurt so much for them to try to get used to the idea.

    Liked by 1 person

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