Changing your name is a liberating experience. I’ve been working though name options for years… way before I even figured out anything to do with my gender, even back to when I was in in my teens. I have had more nicknames than I could probably list and now when I realise that so many were gender neutral. Do you ever look back at your life and wonder “How the hell did I not figure this out sooner?”
Changing my name has been confusing as I have never really had a name that I was particularly drawn to. For years the options I was most inclined to were Alex and Lee, but honestly how many gender queer Alex’s and Lee’s are there? Then there is the issue where changing your name through your tertiary institution is almost impossible and getting new certificates printed by your professional body is a lesson in futility.
Eli is derived from my birth name Elizabeth. I like it. Initially I used Eli just in the safe spaces of my trans support group and then tried it out on various social media platforms. I was still ambivalent about the name until first time I heard someone refer to me as Eli in conversation. Hearing my name spoken out loud resulted in a moment of heart fluttering delight. Slowly I incorporated my chosen name into other social spaces.
I changed my name on Facebook.
The response was wonderful. There was an outpouring of love and support from many of my friends, both those that know me as Eli and those that only know me as Beth. This is not the first time I have asked for gender neutral pronouns on Facebook and I changed my gender to gender queer gender fluid last year when the option first became available. So this is nothing new. Well perhaps nothing new to me.
I had a family member message me to ask what this all means.
I think change can be confusing for family most of all. There are things that they have assumed about you for all of your life which you suddenly (to them) are saying are incorrect. Gender is still seen as an immutable fact and for the majority of cisgender people, the mere existence of transgender people is something easily ignored. Even when cis people have had experience with binary trans people, non binary trans seems beyond comprehension.
The changing my name has been fantastic. The response has been affirming. It seems most everyone has swapped over to using Eli with minimal fuss. Pronouns are still a bit tricky and there are people who want to engage me in the “they can’t be singular” debate rather than to just try use the pronoun and take my word on the fact that they as a singular pronoun is correct. Educating the masses can be a full time job.