This post is by request, but it’s a question I’ve answered a lot and also something I often find myself sharing with trans women who are still searching for their name. And since at some point today, I will legally become Amelia June, I thought today would be the perfect day for it!
Most people are given a name at birth and that’s kind of the end of that story. Their parents likely have some reason why they chose that name, but regardless of the reason, few people actually choose their own name. For trans folk, choosing our names is almost like a rite of passage and is often a first step in transition.
When I finally was ready to start transition, I wanted to choose my name as soon as possible. Not only did having a name give me something to use online in the Twitter and Tumblr communities that helped me along through transition so much, but it also just gave some sort of realness to transition and to who I was. However, I didn’t want to hastily pick something and feel stuck with it later on, I wanted to take some time to really think about what I wanted from a name. After all, this would be the name I’d have to live with for the rest of my life. So before I actually started making a list of possible names, I made a list of criteria that I wanted my name to meet…
- It had to be a name most people have heard of and know how to pronounce when they see it written. Mostly, I just didn’t want to deal with people constantly mispronouncing my name. I deal with enough of that with my last name already. I also didn’t need to have some really unique name, I don’t want my name to particularly stand out to people.
- My name couldn’t be ultra common. So no Lauren or Jen or anything in that vein. There’s nothing at all wrong with these names, but I already know enough people with these names, I didn’t feel the need to join the club.
- The name could not be a feminized version of a male name. I feel like the reasoning for this is fairly obvious. I wanted a strictly female name. I’m not a derivative of the former male person I previously lived as. I’m wholly and entirely a woman. I wanted my name to reflect that.
- It couldn’t be something that sounded like I was a porn star or stripper or anything like that. I have nothing at all against sex work or anything of the sort, but I didn’t want that to be the first thing people thought of when they heard my name.
- The name couldn’t be easy to make a joke out of. Sometimes parents name their kids without really thinking about how they may be made fun of growing up and I didn’t want to make that kind of a mistake with myself. Being trans means a few extra names that would normally be fine wouldn’t pass this test, like Amanda (A man, duh!).
- The name had to simply feel like me. This one is a little less concrete and harder to qualify. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a name I liked, it had to also be one that felt like me and felt like it belonged to me.
- The name needed to be age appropriate. Obviously, I didn’t want a name that made me sound like I was a senior citizen, but I also didn’t want a name that’s popular for kids and teenagers now but would be out of place for a woman my age.
As you can tell, this basically just comes down to wanting a name most people would consider to be “normal” and not standing out too much, while at the same time not being boring.
With these criteria in hand, I took some time to look through lists of popular baby names for the early 80s and picked some names I liked from a little further down the list. I also just tried to come up with some ideas on my own based on names I’ve always liked. Eventually, I had five or so names down on a list, but nothing was really speaking to me that way I had hoped.
At the time I was in the middle of re-watching all of Doctor Who (well, all of new Who, at least) and it hit me, Amelia. I loved the name Amelia. It didn’t hurt that Amy Pond is my favorite companion and…well, I’m basically “the girl who waited” (if you’re unfamiliar with Who, Amy Pond is often referred to as the girl who waited).
Amelia shot right up to the top of my list, but I took a couple more weeks to think about it and see how it actually felt to refer to myself as Amelia. Though, it didn’t take long to simply know this was the right name for me.
With my first name chosen, I had to also consider what I wanted to do about my last name. I could simply keep it, as I think most trans people end up doing, or I could change that as well.
This was kind of tough. At first, I thought I wanted to change it. I figured I would take my wife’s last name since she never changed it after we got married. My reasoning at the time was that I really wanted to just kind of disappear to anyone I wasn’t actively friends with anymore. So people from high school and college, I just wanted to disappear to them. I didn’t want people to find me on Facebook and I didn’t want my past to be easily found via a simple Google search.
However, there came a point where I stopped caring about these things. I didn’t want to hide from anyone. I wanted to be out and proud about it. I decided to keep my last name and not change it. My family is a part of who I am and I want to keep that name and I want people to be able to find my past.
And then lastly, my middle name, June. There isn’t really even story here. I just happen to like the name and liked how it sounded after Amelia. To be honest, I probably thought of it after an episode of Don’t Trust the B—-. Aaaannnd now I’m just realizing that TV may have had too much influence on my name!
So that’s it! That’s how I became Amelia!