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How To Choose A New Trans Name

October 25, 2022

For 30 percent of trans people, part of their transitioning process involves legally changing their name. The task is both daunting and exciting; you get to start afresh with a new name that feels more aligned with your true identity. 

Since it's a decision that will stick with you for a lifetime, it's essential to put some thought into what name you want to choose. Let's explore the factors to consider when making your decision.

Choice One: Common or Rare?

It's time to start looking for name inspiration – but as tempting as it may be, don't pull up those 'Top 100 Names' listicles just yet. Your first step is deciding whether you want a common or unique name. 

There are two main schools of thought here. Some trans people prefer a common name – like Nick, Emma, or Joel – because it makes it easier for them to blend in and avoid discrimination. Trans people already face enough barriers and harassment; a common name can help make their lives just that little bit easier. 

Still, others choose a unique name because they want to embrace their individuality and stand out from the crowd. A rare name can also be empowering, helping you feel like you're in control of your own identity. Some people take this opportunity to come up with an entirely unheard-of name!

If you can settle on how rare or common you'd like your name to be, it'll be much easier to guide your search moving forward.

Choice Two: Keep or Ditch Your Last Name?

It's not uncommon for trans people to want to disassociate themselves from their previous name and family altogether. This detachment is certainly not a requirement, but for some, it's an essential part of transitioning. 

People who keep their surname do so for a number of reasons:

  • It helps them stay connected with their family (particularly if they have supportive parents or siblings).
  • They're proud of their family name and don't want to give it up.
  • People are less likely to ask intrusive questions about their personal life ("why is your surname different from your parents?")
  • It's more convenient from a legal and business standpoint.
  • They simply like the name!

On the contrary, some trans people ditch their surname because:

  • They want a clean break from their past relationships and situations. 
  • It helps them to differentiate between their 'old life' and their 'new life’.
  • It reflects a change in status or identity (e.g., taking on a new last name when you get married).
  • They find the name triggering, or it doesn't fit with their new identity – or they just never liked it in the first place.

Again, this is another personal decision with no right or wrong answer. Try to reflect on the connections and situations you associate with your pre-transition self; do you want to keep that name as a reminder, or would you rather leave it behind?

Ideas for Changing Your Last Name

If you're stuck on what new surname to choose, here are a few approaches to consider:

  • Use your old first name. While this might be convenient, it can get confusing for both you and others, so make sure you're okay with this before making the change.
  • Choose a name that's meaningful to you. Is there a long-term partner or close friend whose surname you'd like to take? What about a relative who has passed away that you want to honor?
  • Opt for a name that sounds similar to your old one. This can make the transition smoother and help people remember who you are.
  • Go for something completely different! If you're looking for a fresh start, why not choose a name representing the person you want to be? 

It's probably best to avoid celebrity-inspired names (e.g., adopting the last name 'Bieber' just because you love Justin Bieber) or naming yourself after fictional characters (people might not get the reference). Instead, look for a surname with great connotations that you can be proud of.

Choice Three: Choosing Your First Name

Also known as your 'given name', your first name is often the hardest to change, as it's the name you've been known as for your entire life. This doesn't mean it's impossible, but it might take some time to get used to.

There are a few things to consider when changing your first name: 

  • Do you want a completely new name or a variation of your old one? 
  • What associations or connotations does the name have? 
  • How easy is it to pronounce and spell?
  • Will this name cause undue tension within any of your current relationships?
  • Is the name appropriate for your age?
  • How does it look when written?

Many trans people simply take their deadname and give it a masculine or feminine spin. For example, if your name is 'John', you could become 'Joan' or 'Jane'. If your name is 'Emily', you could become 'Emilio' or 'Emmet'. 

Reworking your name might seem like an easy solution, but it's not always the best option – particularly if your old name is triggering or you want to create as much distance from it as possible. Why not choose a new yet completely androgynous name like 'Jordan', 'Sky', or 'Phoenix'?

Common Names Among Transgender Folks

Keep in mind that certain names are often associated with transgender people in a stereotypical way (e.g. 'Candy', 'Bambi', or 'Crystal'). While there's nothing wrong with these names, they might not be the best choice if you want to avoid stereotypes.

If you are completely happy to choose your name from a list of popular trans names, however, plenty of excellent names are available. 

Common Trans Men Names

Without substantiating generalizations, some names are more popular among trans men than the general population:

  • Aiden, and anything that rhymes with Aiden
  • 'Manly' names include Buck, Rocco, Chase, Jake, Stone, etc.
  • Vintage-sounding names like Easton, Oliver, or Turner
  • Biblical names such as Gabriel, Ezekiel, or Josiah
  • Geographic names like Dallas, Aspen, or Montana

The most common names for trans men tend to use particular augmentative suffixes (-on, -azo, -ote) and masculine suffixes (-us, -o, -om). While some trans people are perfectly happy with a name like Jayden or Cameron, you're not strange for wanting something a little more unique or feminine.

Common Trans Women Names 

Interestingly, trans women often gravitate toward strong female figures for their choice of name – perhaps because they admire and aspire to these women. Popular names for trans women include:

  • 'Divas' like Bette, Whitney, Barbara, and Liza
  • Minerals and gems; for instance Jade, Sapphire, Crystal, and Amber
  • French-sounding names with -ique and -ette suffixes
  • Fashion and luxury names – Coco, Chloe, Chanel, Tiffany
  • Pet names like Sasha or Ginger
  • Soap-opera icons such as Reena or Drucilla

Female trans names are often alliterative with the same letter or sound used at the beginning of both the first and last name (e.g., 'Sasha Simone'). This is not always the case, however – some trans women prefer a more traditional or classic-sounding name such as Emily, Sarah, or Lauren.

Trans women gravitate toward the diminutive suffixes (-ette, -ina, -ita) and feminine suffixes (-elle, -a, -ee, -ique, -i, -ie) when choosing a name.

Common Gender-Neutral Names

It's perfectly understandable to want a name that doesn't infer your gender. Even if you're transitioning into a different gender, that gender isn't your entire identity – so there's no need to lean heavily toward a traditionally masculine or feminine name. 

There are many excellent gender-neutral names to choose from, including:

  • Unisex names like Jordan, Rowan, Quinn, Rory, Evan, Harper, Avery, and Emery
  • Popular surnames turned first names such as Jameson, Carson, or Peyton
  • Nature names such as Rain, River, Skye, or Blue
  • Fruit and vegetable names such as Peach or Basil

Here are some of the most popular gender-neutral names in alphabetical order: Ainsley, Alex, Ash, Avery, Cam, Chris, Dale, Dana, Devin, Greer, Jackie, Jamie, Jess, Jordan, Kelly, Lake, Lee, Loren, Mel, Mo, Nat, Parker, Pat, Riley, Robin, Sandy, Shannon, Skyler, Taylor, Tracy, Vic.

As you can see, there are plenty of great names to choose from – regardless of whether you want a traditionally masculine, feminine, or gender-neutral name.

Choosing Your Name With Confidence

Selecting a new name can feel almost impossible when you've spent your whole life with your old name. You might second-guess yourself or feel like you're not allowed to change your name just because you want to.

Remember that this is for your own happiness and comfort – so don't be afraid to choose a name that feels right for you, even if it doesn't conform to societal norms.

Your chosen name should make you feel happy, confident, and comfortable in your own skin. It's okay to change your mind about your name later down the road; for now, choose a name that you love and that makes you feel good about yourself.

Here at the UK Deed Poll Office, we make it incredibly easy to change your name. Register on our website before 3pm for same-day registration at just £18.50 (postage included). Changing your name shouldn’t be a hassle, and it doesn’t have to be!

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The UK Deed Poll Office is not a government agency. Our function is purely as a document provider for the self-declaration of an unenrolled deed poll. We are here to assist in your name change journey, as we have done for over 100,000 UK residents.

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