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!
The term, “ruling with elf wisdom” is linked to the names, “Aubrey” (f) and “Avery” (m/f). They are of English origin. In the case of Avery, the meaning is derived from the Old English words aelf, meaning elf, and raed, meaning counsel. What does this mean exactly? Elves have made appearances throughout time in different cultures’ storytelling and mythology, most notably Germanic and Norse mythology (which may be the basis for today’s understanding of elves as helpers to Santa Claus, of the North Pole.) Not to mention Tolkein’s imaginings. According to Wikia, a website for fandom,
“The elves were originally imagined as a race of minor nature and fertility gods, who are often pictured as youthful-seeming men and women of great beauty, living in forests and underground places, like caves, or in wells and springs. They have been portrayed to be long-lived or immortal and as beings of magical powers. In Norse paganism, Light elves were beautiful creatures and were considered to be ‘guardian angels.’ Light elves were minor gods of nature and fertility; they could help or hinder, humans with their knowledge of magical powers. They also often delivered an inspiration to art or music.”
“The Dark Elves hated the sun and it’s sunlight, because if they were touched or exposed to it they would immediately turn into stone. They use to annoy and threaten humans, to the point that nightmares were thought to be produced by the Dark Elves.These elves could also haunt animals, especially horses. They are also known as dwarfs. “
Elves are known to be playful, mischievous, and flighty, yet loyal and duty-bound. So, to rule with this wisdom can only be a good thing! To “rule with dwarf wisdom,” if there were such a thing, might be something else entirely.
I have not heard any follow-ups from the Washington Post reporter in over a week, so I’m assuming she went with someone else. I’m kinda bummed – it felt like it would have been a good personal challenge. Maybe I’ll have more opportunities to talk with more people in the future… I’ll share the link to the story as soon as I come across it.
Having the chance to talk with her via phone and then to think about the potential of her coming here to hang out with me as I live my life definitely made some specific types of thoughts more pronounced, for many many days in a row. Mainly, what do I want to share with others, and what feels too vulnerable? Hypothetically, to what extent would I choose to be anonymous? These questions have been on my mind quite a bit for a while, but suddenly it felt like I might need to make some definitive choices. And even though the pressure’s off on those decisions, I’m still pressing myself about it, at least some of it. I finally decided to settle on a new name.
The name situation has been a thing I haven’t directly addressed but have thought about for roughly 10+ years (like a lot of particulars about my gender identity). I do not like to go by my legal name, or the name I used growing up. Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I skewed it slightly, and that started to stick – almost everyone knows me by this slightly masculinized version of a pretty feminine name. But ultimately, it’s not what I want. I’ve toyed with the idea (off-and-on) of going by a male name. The biggest contenders were Adam (this is my drag persona) and Konrad (just because I like it).
But, I have to admit that ultimately, it would be too hard for me to request a name like that if I’m not ever going to be appearing definitively male. I wish it were no big thing. And to many people, I imagine it wouldn’t be, and they’d easily make the switch. Just… it would be too awkward for me. I already know.
Ideally, I’ve wanted to go by a name that is right in the middle of androgyny. I mean, a lot of names can be male or female names, but usually, they’re much more commonly used for one over the other.
I talked to my partner about a potential new name about a week ago. This is a conversation we’ve had at other points in time, for sure. But it was always more whimsical – sort of like, what if?… This time it was more like, OK, I really need to pick now. I have this piece of writing I want to submit to our local LGBT literary magazine, and it’s due in 3 days, and I need a pen name!
That ended up being pretty tense; note to self – don’t try to rush these kinds of decisions. Haha. But we got through it; she helped me come to a name that I’m going to start using ASAP as a pen name. Avery. And if I still like it, I’ll start using it more and more online, and then if I’m still liking it, the big switch to real life (which I envision will involve legally changing it as well.) But all that feels pretty scary, so for now, it’s just a pen name.
“Avery” definitely seems androgynous to me – maybe skewed more to masculine, but feels like either, for sure. I looked up the origin / what it means, and that pretty much sealed the deal. A few websites confirmed, “the name literally means, ‘ruling with elf wisdom.'”
Not sure if I could find a better fit!!!
If you picked out your name, how did you come to it / narrow it down???