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!

My supervisor used my preferred name, once

One time, last week, my supervisor used my preferred name!  It was super exciting; but now she has reverted back.  We’ve been working together for almost 7 years, and she and my one co-worker are the last to get on board with this.  Every single other person at this school consistently uses my preferred name, which means that my supervisor and co-worker are exposed to it on a regular basis.  Are they stubborn, old-school, unwilling to change?  Not sure.

It was pretty slow going to get people to use it consistently at first, largely because I preferred not to talk at all, let alone correct people on the usage of my name.  (My preferred name and given name sound pretty similar and are spelled only slightly different, but to me, the difference is huge.)  I feel like with teachers, there was a tipping point where they suddenly caught on.  And I remember the exact instance that helped with this – One of the most social teachers specifically asked me which I prefer, and so I made it clear to her and added enthusiastically, “Spread the word!”  And I think maybe she did.  That was about 3 years ago.  The same teacher also helped me spread the word about my news I just got married; she has been very helpful to me (shy, reserved, introverted janitor)!

I’m in a very weird place, socially, within the school network.  In my view, I’m more integral than some of the employees, who are part time and come and go depending on need, or just high turnover rates.  These would be one-to-one student aids, cafeteria monitors, and kitchen staff, mainly.  But I’m not nearly as integral as everyone else, who need to attend faculty meetings and work in interconnected ways and figure out things with students all the time, often as teams and groups and committees.  People have to force themselves to be social, for their job if not for the act of connecting itself.  Me?  I could be completely isolated and still get my job done.  But also, I have the flexibility to be very social, if I wanted to be.  I’m going in and out of teachers’ rooms every day, after school, and a lot of them are still there working, winding down, when I come in.  I could chit chat with them all.  But generally, I don’t.  Recently, I’ve improved in just at least being friendly and making small talk.  Previously, I would even stress out about saying “Hi” when I came in.  This isn’t an exaggeration – for so long, I thought that they are all so busy and stressed; I should not bother them.  I should come in and clean up after the kids, for them, and then get out.  Teachers didn’t feel like real people to me.  I would go as far as to say I even felt intimidated by them.  Here I am doing this lowly work, trying to work around them, trying to be invisible.  Now?  I’ve realized they are people and I am a person, and we can relate on a human level, and we all work within this larger environment that is a School.  I feel so much more at ease.

A lot of people know a lot more about me now than they ever have before.  I would guess that about half of the faculty and staff heard that I just got married, and (I think) they know it’s to a person of the same sex.  But this is only the simple version; they could know so much more, if I ever got that far – it’d be awesome if they knew I don’t identify as female.  It’d be awesome if they knew I prefer male pronouns.  It’d be awesome if they knew I’m on testosterone, but am not actually medically transitioning and do not plan to ever pass full-time, or even half-time or quarter-time.  I wonder how all of that would go over, hypothetically.

For now, it’d be nice if my supervisor and co-worker would get on board with my name!