This is as good as any place to start I suppose.
This morning was the morning that I informed my parents of the name I had been thinking for myself; Madelyn. I told my mom first, she said it was a nice name, but she was reminded of Madeleine Albright, which was a bit of a bummer for me (although admittedly I thought the same thing when I first considered the name). I have nothing against Ms. Albright, but she’s just not the reason I chose the name, nor a particular source of inspiration for me personally. My dad came in the room and my mom told him, I think he must have said, “that’s a nice name” or something like that in the background. It was somewhat a non-event, and we were on to other topics.
When I first started thinking about the possibility of transitioning (some years ago) I thought it could be nice to find a name that was reminiscent of the name my parents gave me upon birth. I didn’t feel like “Matilda” fit me very well, so I thought through other similar names like Madison, and Madelyn (and it’s various spellings). At the time I too could only think of Madeleine Albright as a Madelyn I knew of, and the image of her didn’t fit me either.
But as time when on I think I’ve started to like the name more. After all, there are a number of wonderful women who have had that name, starting with Mary Magdalene (the roots of the name), and going through modern history where there’s a bunch of Madelyns that have had a positive impact on the world and even a popular book series featuring the tales of a girl with that name. Seeing the name with these other histories helped me appreciate the name more, and it grew on me.
There’s a number of reasons I selected the name, but when it comes to choosing a name it’s not really a scientific process, but an emotional one. After all, this is something that will be linked to you for a very long time. It’s true that the name is somewhat related to my boy name given at birth, it allows me to have the same first initial, and my friends can still call me “Mattie” for short which might be nice. But ultimately it’s the feeling that helps seal the deal – it just feels like it could fit me.
Not a lot of people in the world change their first names. It’s legal to do so in most places, but many people feel strange about doing it because their name was given them by their parents. Most trans people don’t have much choice in the matter since continuing to live life with their given legal name can create problems and draw unwanted attention. While a name change is basically a requirement for a trans person that embarks on transition in my case I’ve always thought that as far as boy names goes my given name was a beautiful one – although not appropriate for a girl at all. It’s more about what the name represents that I think makes me realize it will need to go; a lifetime living what feels like someone else’s life, the ‘boy’ suit that I have worn so well for so many years, and a reminder of my gender incongruence each time my name is used. And yet, it was the name my parents chose for me, it was the name my loving wife and many important people in my life have come to know me by, and the name that will represent all the good aspects of my life up to now as well.
And so here is where I begin, with a new name in mind for my future, and a place to share my thoughts about living in transgender, and the thoughts and feelings about journeying across the gender spectrum to the place I have always felt I should be.