There is so much more to a name than we can ever really comprehend. A name is so fundamental to a thing. It ascribes meaning and value and worth that is sometimes quantifiable but most often is not.
Think of a thing, anything, then name it with its name, it could be a bicycle, it could be apple or table. Anything really. Its name is of immense worth. In fact, without that name, its very meaning ceases to be. Imagine trying to describe the essence of what a bicycle is without using its actual name to do so. It becomes an incredibly complex task. At least far more complex than a simple sentence along the lines of I travelled here today on my bicycle.
This is even more complex when it comes to people. We all have names, they’re our names, they mean something incredibly important to us. Commonly we’ve not chosen those names ourselves, but for the most part, we accept them and use them, navigate life with them. We are in a very real sense made and known by them.
But not all of us comply. Some of us buck this system. There is a host of reasons why. We may just dislike the name, dislike the person who gave it to us, or the person we were named for. There are so many reasons why some of us buck this trend of accepting the name we are given. But what is continuous here is the importance of the name, whether accepted as given or chosen for self.
The idea of what’s in a name really is a big idea.
I’m one who has chosen to cast off that name I was given at birth. There are multiple reasons for this, not least of which is it is a highly gendered name, which, applies to a gender I am not. For me it’s more than just that, there is the visceral loathing I always had for the father who named me, the simple knowledge that it never truly represented me, the pain of how it was used to shame and bully me throughout my childhood and into adulthood.
Yes, I’m one who chose a new name for themselves. A name that I love, a name that does not tie into the pain of association of my past name, or as I refer to it my dead name.
The name that I have chosen for myself I am able to wear happily. I am able to allow it to label me. I happily respond when I hear it proclaimed. It is my name.
My old name is not my name, in truth, it never was. It was always temporary, it was always wrong. It was always painful and horrible.
When you have family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues or whatever who have taken the momentous step of self-naming, I implore you to respect that and to use their chosen name. Don’t ever use that deadname again. Don’t use it to them or about them. You just don’t know what levels of pain or sorrow you may be unleashing inside that person if you do.
What’s in a name? Quite a bit as it turns out.