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.
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.
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:
On the contrary, some trans people ditch their surname because:
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?
If you're stuck on what new surname to choose, here are a few approaches to consider:
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.
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:
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'?
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.
Without substantiating generalizations, some names are more popular among trans men than the general population:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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!