British comedian Suzy Eddie Izzard announced two weeks ago that she had legally changed her name to Suzy - a name she’s wanted to be called since she was 10.
Changing names is an important moment for people reaffirming their gender identity. But how do non-binary and trans people choose their new name?
Re: News spoke to people from rainbow communities and they shared the stories behind their names with us. Here’s what they had to say.
“I ended up landing on the name Shiyi, which is the name my parents gave me when I was born.
“I moved here from Taiwan when I was five. As soon as we moved to New Zealand, my parents said ‘you’re going to be a white boy with a white boy name’.
“When I came out as trans I saw an opportunity to come back to my culture as well, and so I changed my name back to Shiyi.
“Shiyi comes from two characters. The first Shi is what I share with my sister - a generational name. It is an old type of verse, a type of poetry.
“My parents gave me yi - which is a doctor or to heal - because that's what they wanted me to be when I grew up.
“In Mandarin, my name is the meeting of a feminine word -Shi meaning verse or poetry - versus masculine with yi which means doctor.
“For me that really signifies the trans experience and dichotomy that lives on within me as a trans woman.”
“My first name just came from a book character. I saw Oliver and I was like ‘huh, nice’.
“Then I left my all girls school and realised how many other Ollies there are out there! Oh well, here I am.
“My middle name (Joseph) has a lot more meaning. After I came out to my grandparents I asked my grandma if there were any family names that hadn’t been used in a while, and she suggested this one. It’s her dad’s name who sounds like he was a really cool guy, and I really like keeping that connection to the family that has supported me so much.
“My sister is annoyed I didn’t use Dionysus but she’ll get over it.”
“For me, I chose my first name from two childhood books I love and still read at 24.
“My middle name is my granddad’s. He helped raise me and he's not well at the moment.
“And my last name is from a musical I love.”
“When I started my transition I didn’t even know if I wanted to change my name because it was Sunny and fit a guy or girl.
“But I was giving myself a whole new identity, I thought ‘why not my name too?’
“I picked Skyler because at the time I was rejecting the things people had told me I needed to be and asking myself the question, ‘What’s the limit of what I should change to be happy?’
“And for me, there is no limit, the sky's the limit.
“And so, Skyler.”
“I go by Jay after changing my legal name to James.
“I remember when I was young and asking what name my parents had picked out for me had I been AMAB [Assigned Male at Birth], and feeling this weird longing for that name.
“I always hated my feminine birth name, even before I questioned my gender, so getting to reclaim James as my name kind of felt like setting the record right.
“While Jay is the name I prefer and suits me best, James kind of feels like home - what was always meant to be.
“I think that's really interesting considering I'm not a binary trans man (I'm nonbinary) but I suppose it makes sense being very masc-leaning.”
“I’m a trans man who changed his name at 14 to match my identity after coming out at around 12/13. I’m currently 20.
“I wanted a name that wouldn’t make it too obvious that I’m transgender, to frame it better I guess I'd say that I wanted a name that didn’t call any attention to myself. I’m not a big fan of attention.
“I was originally thinking of using Tyler or Leo - masculine but common.
“One day in 2015 I saw a vine that used the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song and thought to myself that Thomas would be a nice name, a lot of nickname opportunities and is pretty common in Aotearoa. I started testing it out at school and the rest is history.
“Each year since I've started using it I have amassed an impressive collection of Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cards.
“I sometimes wonder if I should've chosen something more unique but hey, I suit it and can’t really see myself being anything else.”
“My chosen name is Theo!
“My birth name is a biblical feminine one which I have always disliked since I was a kid.
“When I went through the gender crisis as a teenager, I went with Theo as that was the name of a character I was role-playing in a game at the time that was everything I wanted to be.
“It’s kind of stuck since then and my name means a lot to me because I chose it and it fits my identity as a genderqueer individual so much more!”
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