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The Significance of your real name


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A day before yesterday for the first time I visited a therapist about me being a transgender woman. At some point during the conversation I told her my real name so to speak and for the first time ever I heard my name being said out loud by another person.

I've always thought and still think it is not my business to force people to use my real name. People will perceive my gender as they do and no tantrums are going to change that. I can always ask them, but in the end, its their business. So I try my best not to offend if they prefer to use my official name. In Finnish language pronouns really are no issue, because 3rd person is neutral.


Still, I never would have guessed, how big of a deal hearing your real name for the first time would be. I was literally stunned for a moment. It felt like... I exist! It's not just inside my head. I really do exist! I mean... of course I exist, but if the therapist was honest and didn't just try to make me feel better, finally, after all these years, someone else saw a glimpse of me as I experience myself. Just thinking about it makes me lose words...



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Helena, I am delighted for you that you had that experience.  I agree it is wonderful to hear someone else use your chosen name, especially for the first time.


I remember so well the day, 14 years ago, that I walked into my therapist's office.  The first question she asked me was, "what would you like me to call you?"  I think the smile on my face must have been a mile wide.


Thank you for sharing that, and bringing a lovely memory back so vividly.




Carolyn Marie

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 12/10/2021 at 9:13 PM, helena said:

Still, I never would have guessed, how big of a deal hearing your real name for the first time would be. I was literally stunned for a moment. It felt like... I exist! It's not just inside my head. I really do exist! I mean... of course I exist, but if the therapist was honest and didn't just try to make me feel better, finally, after all these years, someone else saw a glimpse of me as I experience myself. Just thinking about it makes me lose words...

I know just what you mean ❤. I didn't even admit to myself I was trans until I kept hearing myself referred to by female pronouns: and I realized THIS is who I am!! ❤❤❤

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On 12/11/2021 at 12:13 AM, helena said:

I never would have guessed, how big of a deal hearing your real name for the first time would be.

Yes, it is! 😀 What will blow your mind even more though, is how quickly and effortlessly you will start answering to your name in normal day-to-day routines once people pick up on it (if you let them know, of course!). I had an instance not to long ago where someone was trying to get my attention from across a room, and I immediately turned when she called my name. When I realized what happened, I had to smile. That's the moment I knew my original name had turned into my "dead name" once and for all. 😊 

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that's fantastic!  I've been using my real name for about a year and while there are still people who don't use it (not maliciously, for the record) I smile every time I hear it.


Speaking of the significance of names, I was amazed how easily I let go of my deadname!  Once I started using my real name my deadname almost immediately became associated with everything else I decided to jettison (the cynicism, anger, etc.) and now I cringe every time I hear it.  I had no idea that would be such a big deal to me but it turned out to be fairly significant.

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At one point I was in short-term relationship with a much younger woman who used female pronouns with me - despite presenting as male at the time - and I loved how it felt. She was probably the first person I'd opened up to about having a female side who understood what I really meant and rolled with it. It probably helped that she was 21-years-old, genderqueer and taking testosterone.

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  • 3 weeks later...

When I initially made the decision to begin transitioning, I chose a female variation of my given name. It never felt quite right - so I decided on "Katie" and now I know why...I'd never heard anyone describe their given name as a "dead name" until I read the post from you ladies! And now I realize why the feminized version of my given name wasn't right...it was too much of a reminder of the person that I am no longer...truly a dead name!



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  • 3 weeks later...

I need to reflect on this some more. Strangely, I find that people at work have an easier time using my real name than my immediate family. Partly habit, but also, I suspect, an unwillingness to let go of the man I was pretending to be.


I wonder if I should just gently ask them to use my real name versus the feminized version of my given name? It may be easier for all of us in the long run.

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