How do I know if a name is right for me?

The number one piece of advice I would give someone who isn’t 100% yet about a potential new name:  try it out in a controlled setting where you are surrounded by strangers (if possible).  If it’s a temporary setting, even better.

I’m the type of person who isn’t going to go with something till I’m really really sure.  Other people might be fine with trying a name amongst friends and then switching it at a later date, or trying out a few names with a few people all at the same time.  These people can disregard my advice!

Sometimes finding a new name is more of an ordeal.  It has been for me at least – I’ve been considering new names for many many years.  What could be a fun and creative process might end up feeling like a never-ending search for a perfect fit.  About a year ago, I wrote a post on finding a new name.  I thought I had it!  I was pretty excited about it!

It is here:  Ruling With Elf Wisdom

I started using my new name at my new doctor’s office, and then I made no further progress after that.  Something was off, but I assumed it was just that it would take some getting used to.  Now, a year later, I can easily say it just wasn’t the right name for me.  (And/or I just wasn’t ready.)  It looked good on paper.  It sounded good in my head.  However, it sounded strange, for me, in the real world.  When a nurse called me back from the waiting room, it just did not feel right.  Lots of other blog writers have addressed this too:

A few years ago, Micah wrote about how he had an online presence as “Maddox,” which he thought fit well until he started trying out the name at a conference.  It is here:  Misnomer

Jamie Ray wrote about their process of over-thinking a name until one just came to them, through a Starbucks barista hearing their legal name wrong.  It is here:  The Name Game

I started thinking about names again a couple of months ago, once I really started to accept that the name I thought I might go with, “Avery” was not a good fit.  I wanted an androgynous name, and I felt like I’d heard them all (and I might have, with all the time I spent searching names online).  It wasn’t until I had a conversation (not the first) with my partner (at a Starbucks, coincidentally), that a name I had glossed over many times before suddenly popped out more.  “Kameron.”  I like it because it’s more of a masculine name than a feminine name.  I like it because it’s close to my legal name.  I like it because Cameron is the name of the first trans-guy I met in real life (the first trans-guy I knew to be trans anyway).

I just feel more sure this time.  It’s not really explainable – it’s just a feeling.  So far I’ve told a handful of friends, my mom, my partner’s mom, and the partial hospitalization program I am currently attending.

The PHP is a perfect place to try this out.  No one knows me there, and I probably won’t be seeing any of them again after 5-10 days.  Plus there are lots of opportunities for people to address me, and everyone else, by name.  I started to get called “Kameron” a lot, and it’s been treated like it’s just my name.  They don’t know I’m not using it yet; it doesn’t matter!  When someone says “Kameron,” it fits.

I don’t yet have a timeline for legally changing my name, but I know that I will.  I know the change-over will be hard and it will take a while for everyone to get on board and remember.  That’s OK – a lot of good things take a while.  Even settling on a name to begin with can take a while.  Try not to get discouraged – your name is out there!

27 Comments on “How do I know if a name is right for me?”

  1. PlainT says:

    There’s a guy’s name which sounds gender-neutral to me even though it’s pretty much exclusively male, and I really love it, and whenever I see someone with my name I have that “ooh cool someone with my name!” reaction. But I don’t think I’d ever go by it just because it’s too male-associated, so in practice it wouldn’t feel right.

    I have started reviving my old sort-of-gender-bendy nickname and that feels better in reality; partly because of its neutrality and partly because it suits me and partly because i have many positive warm memories attached to this name.


  2. Jamie Ray says:

    I like Kameron, and that you have a lot of nickname/diminuitive choices with it. My nephew is a Cameron, and he is nicknamed Cammy.

    Even though I was almost positive that Jamie was THE NAME, I still tried it out at Weight Watchers and used it at Starbucks for a couple of months before I made it semi-official. The giveaway was that I got a big grin on my face every time I heard it and I got increasingly annoyed with Amy. It is good advice not to settle for a name you are not truly comfortable with. And thanks for the link!


    • janitorqueer says:

      It does have nickname choices with it, although I’m not a fan of them…
      I like the image of you getting a big grin on your face every time someone used your tentatively chosen name!


  3. nmwords says:

    Though I’m female, I’ve never wanted a feminine English name. I’ve used a variety of names but finally settled with a translation of my Chinese name because it’s impossible to tell my gender using this. Hope you’ll find your name soon!


  4. Hart says:

    Using your new name is easier if it’s a new locale where people don’t know your other name. I’ve found people who adopt the new name later on speak it timidly, and seem to feel weird using it. Whereas people who know your new name know you by it and it alone. Of course there’s always aberrations, see having one guy ask my name, when I told him he then asked ‘yeah, but what’s you REAL name?’ I chose mine based on the first letter so I wouldn’t have to redo my business logo (my initials in script). Turns out it’s the same last name as my mate’s friend from grade school, which is awkward but not intolerably so. People can and will ask why the change, and you may not feel comfortable enough with them to divulge why, I usually mutter something about changes in my life reflecting my new name and that seems to satisfy the average person.


  5. rimonim says:

    Kameron! I can see it. Very cool name. I like the “K”–it gives the name a certain edge.


  6. I struggle with names because I’m gender fluid and my name is tolerable/OK to all my genders, but doesn’t really fit any of them awesomely. :/


  7. Kris says:

    Hi Kameron! Of course I like it, it starts with a K as well! Take care.


  8. butch illusion says:

    I like Kameron.

    I also used the Starbucks route. It took me about six months of going to SBUX and psyching myself up to say a different name to the barista for the cup, and then freaking out at the last minute and ending up telling them my birth name. I felt like a failure a lot (and also bought a lot of coffee!) Finally I was able to give a different name and tried out a few. I got my legal name changed last year, and picked out one that could be gender-neutral, but is definitely perceived as more masculine. I feel way better and have less anxiety now that everyone knows me by and calls me by my new name.


    • janitorqueer says:

      Thanks for this comment – it gives me hope! Right now the process feels daunting, but I know I’ll be much happier with a new legal name…


    • micah says:

      I went through the same song-and-dance at Starbucks for a while. I would frequently end up saying “Pikachu” or something ridiculous like that, because I would blank when they asked me my name.


  9. alexforshaw says:

    I like the name Kameron: it seems to fit you. The hard K gives it a masculine bias and differentiates it from the more common Cameron.


  10. The Little Butch That Could (TLBTC) says:

    Thankfully my name is one thing I do not have to worry about! Growing up, I didn’t like my name but as I got older I realized Robin fits me to a tee. I don’t know if my Mother knew I needed something andro or not but I’m happy with her choice. Cheers.


  11. yeti says:

    Not to rush you, but I just finished legally changing my name, a very long exciting and slow process.

    I know your not in Allegheny County but I’m sure it’d still help you out


  12. micah says:

    Thanks for the mention. It did take me a while to find a name after trying out a few, but I did have that A-HA moment (which I rarely do).

    Curiously enough, the way I “found” it was also by chance. I changed on Facebook as an experiment, to see if other people would even notice (because Micah is very close to what I had before). I saw it written out, next to my picture and last name, and it just felt right.


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