Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What's In a Name

Does anyone else share this little idiosyncrasy of mine? My experience has been that it is fairly unique, and in fact, most people - T-community or otherwise - have regarded my habit with some confusion. I'd be interested in knowing how others of you out there view this particular issue. I'm speaking of... the name.

It sounds to me like most girls pick a name and stick with it; this has not been my approach. I have actually renamed myself at least a half dozen times over the years. These changes largely coincide with other changes I make to my approach to handling my transgenderism. For example, when I finally collected all the appropriate accouterments to make a complete transformation, I took a new name to mark that new phase of my life.

I'm given to understand that not all T-people take on a new "gender appropriate" name, but interestingly it was one of the first things I ever did. Before I ever tried women's clothes, before I experimented with makeup or tried shaving my legs, I took a feminine name. In my dream worlds, in the solitude of my bedroom, I had a name. I think I was around 11 or 12 when I first named myself. I decided that my name would be Melissa.

The first time I changed my name stemmed from the realization that my chosen name could be shortened to a masculine nickname. That thought was wholly unacceptable. I wanted to be a woman, and I didn't want any ambiguity about it. When someone called my name, I wanted it to be clear that a woman would respond. I believe the first evolution was to Sonya (I don't know why... most of the time I picked a name that I associated with someone I found beautiful). That was probably around the time I turned 15 or so. From that instance on, I never again assumed a name that could be shortened or in any other way be interpreted as masculine.

The next time I changed my name was after I started living on my own and no longer had to hide my "spoils." Well, that was only partially true. I had a roommate, and despite my deep desires, I still could not find the courage to tell anyone about myself. That came about a year later (well... sort of). I don't remember the specific name I took back then. I remember that the next name change occurred several years later, after I had finally collected the proper "equipment" for the total transformation... yes that was several years later. Sad isn't it? Then I became Rebecca Lynn. I remained Rebecca Lynn for several years, right into marriage and children.

At a certain point, around my fourth year of marriage or so, the right combination of circumstances finally fell into place, and I was able to make a public appearance or two. At this time, I changed my name to Jennifer Lynn (Jenny for short). Honestly, that was always my favorite name, and I've toyed many times with going back to it. I never have though. Around my tenth year of marriage, things began to fall apart. My then wife had decided she couldn't take being with me anymore (frankly, I had checked out emotionally a couple years before), and it was decided that we would separate.

In that period of life, I made a second decision. I was going to transition. I sought out counseling, managed to get myself on hormones, and even started electrolysis. To mark this major development, I decided it was time to bring my name back home. One evening while reminiscing about something or other, I remembered a childhood "fantasy" of sorts. I've never had a nickname, largely because my male name is very concise and not conducive to such things; but many of my cousins and other family members would often call me by my initials - K.D. Every time I heard someone call me K.D., my mind would translate that to Katie, and my heart would flutter with joy at the idea of being called by a feminine name.

It was that memory that spurred the adoption of the name Kate, or Katherine.

Is that weird to you all? Or has anyone else done something like that? What are your quirks? I'd love to hear your stories!

Katie Anne DeLong

BTW - the montage in my title block is a combination of photos from the Jenny and Katie periods. :)


  1. Katie,

    I changed the name I use for my feminine self only once.

    Unlike you, although I knew that's what I wanted, I never entertained the idea that I really was a girl, and thus needed a feminine name, until late in life when I finally began to allow myself to seriously entertain the idea of transition. For about a year, I called myself Sherrie. I never really liked it and it had no special meaning for me. It was simply the first name that popped into my head when I decided I needed a feminine persona to start joining Yahoo and other groups to learn more about myself and others like me.

    One year later, I decided that I was going to transition and knew that I needed a name that would be meaningful to me to carry with me for the rest of my life. So, I did what I have learned to do whenever I have a decision to make: I prayed and meditated, asking Spirit to guide me to a new name. I'll spare you the details but it took about 6 weeks before I knew that Abigail - Abby to you and my other friends - is who I am.

    However, due to a fluke, I grew up without a middle name and I wanted one for the rest of my life. So, again, I prayed and meditated. This time it only took a week until "Louise" popped into my head. As soon as I put the two names together - "Abigail Louise" - I knew that I had my new name. So that's who I am and who I always will be as long as I walk this plane.


  2. Hi Katie, and BTW Hi Abby!

    I don't think I've posted the full story of my name before, your blog spurred me to do so. Relating it quickly became too large to post as a comment on your blog, but you were the impedus!

    I too am fascinated in the reasoning and stories behind how we name ourselves, thanks for showing me I'm not the only one with this predilection!

  3. First off, this is all weird to me...period. Odd though, that you have had so many "selves". I mean, you never renamed your male persona. Or, would you have if you could? Did you ever even think about it?
    This is all just so interesting to me. Keep up the writing.

  4. Trench, I hated my guy name and tried to get people to use my middle name instead (it wasn't much of an improvement, but at least it didn't lend itself to the teasing that my first name did). Unfortunately, it only stuck for a couple hours after I announced it in class. I was in my mid to late 20's before I finally reconciled to living with my guy name, if that's what I had to do. Fortunately, I found a better way, although it took me another 30 years to do it.

  5. Hey Trench! Glad you stopped by. Abby, Putergurl, thanks for joining in! It's great to hear from you, and I look forward to your comments.

  6. Okay, duh. After I jusr re-read my post, I noticed I call myself Trench on here. Well, that's not my given name. It is a name I use often for posts. So, on some level perhaps we're never quite the person we want to be. I pick Trench for a reason...just don't know why. Now I've got to think about this. Damn you, Katie. Damn you.


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