Now this is something I can’t find much of around the internet: cisgender people changing their preferred name. However, it came to my attention that it is, in fact, a thing.
This therapy website I came across says it very well: “Names and identities are our first impressions. How we dress, the way we wear our hair, how we behave, and even where we go all begins with our identity and what we call ourselves. Whether it is religion, sexuality or gender, if it is part of an identity then it will influence how you present yourself to the world and how you interact with the world. The critical factors in creating an identity are that it describes who you are and it is self-chosen.”
April 9 is supposedly “Name Yourself Day,” which is designed to experiment with a different name if one feels as though their given one doesn’t fit. Now, let’s remind ourselves of what the difference is between a given and a preferred name.
A given name refers to the one you were given at birth; the legal name you see on someone’s birth certificate or Social Security Card. On the other hand, a preferred name is one by which an individual would like to go by aside from their legally given name at birth. And in some cases, folks may not like you using their given name, and is then referred to as one’s deadname.
The hot take I’m eluding to is not the same as a cisgender person simply going by a nickname. What I’m getting at is cis people deserve to change their preferred name, even legally, to one they feel is right for them, similar to what transgender folks do to eliminate dysphoria.
Not every name change has to be legal, though. Sometimes a social transition — telling peers, friends, family, employers, etc. about your preferred name — is enough for someone. However, a legal name change is possible for those who want to take that extra step. Keep in mind, though, that a minor may need both parents’ signatures to complete the legal name change process.
“Other people may give us names (e.g. our parents) and labels (e.g. society) but an identity can only come from us,” GoodTherapy continues in its blog post. “An identity represents how we perceive ourselves and how we want other people to perceive us. A label is a descriptor given to us by others based on their stereotypes of us.
“… As we grow, change and have new experiences, what we call ourselves may change as well. The name and identity that we have at 15 years old may be different than when we are 25 or 50 years old.”