A little after reading this article about transgender people choosing their names, I wondered, as I have since I had the ability to wonder, what I would choose to name myself if that choice were mine to have. What if the social custom was to allow people to name themselves as a rite of passage? You are called a generic term from birth, let’s say “young one,” the same as any other child. Then when you come of age, you choose a fitting name. I personally have two names, my American name and my ethnic name. If pronounced correctly, I prefer the ethnic name. It sounds beautiful with the right inflection. Unfortunately that never happens.
There is a power inherent in naming. Actors usually get to choose a stage name that is usually more socially palpable than their given name. It creates their outward persona, because as an actor, they are always hiding beneath a character. That idea has always intrigued me. So then begins a series of what if’s. What if I had been born with a different name? What would I choose? And so on. Then the stage of fantasy came to an end.
In reality, there are very few opportunities to change your name, it’s an enormous hassle and in the worst case scenario may leave you open to an accusation of identify theft. One of the most common ways that you end up changing your name as a female,* is to take your husband’s name when you get married. There are a few ways of perceiving this. You could see as an opportunity to become your husband’s chattel (highly negative), or to transition into becoming a member of his new family (more positive). What if there were a third option? This could be an opportunity to define yourself anew, to emerge from your former self like a snake from it’s skin, fresh and unblemished?
*Or as Zoe Saldana’s husband