Do you have any tips on picking a new name? (I'm trans :) )
Oh boy, this is a hard one!
So, a lot of this depends on how much you want to fit in and how much you don’t care.
The first thing I would say is avoid appropriative names. If you are not asian, or do not have asian cultures in your recent family history, avoid asian names, for example. There’s one exception to that, which I will note below.
The reason for avoiding appropriative names is that you cannot be transgender and not be political. Our lives are, unfortunately, inherently political whether we want them to be or not. What you do with that, and what you make of it, is entirely up to you, but I strongly advise taking an active stance against things like appropriation. You don’t have to be an activist, you don’t have to call yourself a feminist if you don’t want, but it will make your life easier if you follow the barest of feminist beliefs. If you want a detailed reason as to why, send me another ask.
How much do you want to fit in? Age appropriateness is something that, in our culture, is very ingrained. It is not an overt system, it is very implicit, but people still pick up on it. If you have a name that isn’t appropriate for your age group, people will notice. For example, if you are noticeably older than Harry Potter series, and your name is Hermione, people are going to notice and ask questions. If you are trying to pass, you do not want to draw attention. But even if you are not trying to pass, people associate that name with a certain age bracket (young millennials and children born to older millennials).
If you lie in the US, the Social Security Administration will let you look at names that were popular when you were born. You can look at the gender that you most closely identify with (man or woman, in this case), and see what common names were in the year you were born.
If you prefer a gender neutral name, you will find those on either list. Start with the top 10 or so, for the year you were born. Then look at the years before and after, to see if there are names. Then bump the list up to 20, and do the same thing.
Make a list of the names that you like the most. Heck, rank all the names if you want. There should be a pretty decent list of names for women, men, or gender neutral names as you prefer.
In my case, I did not choose Samantha in this manner, but I did check to make sure it was close-ish, and it turned out to be popular enough within five years of when I was born. Since people saw me as younger anyhow, it worked out.
If you are transitioning to a masculine appearance you might want to take this into account as well. If you look younger or older than you actually are (and trans men frequently look younger), this can add some of that implicit validity for society.
It may seem like a small thing, but it really does make a difference. One thing you want to look out for is whether or not there is a drastic change in names from year to year on the popular list. If you pick a name that suddenly appears as number 3 and doesn’t appear in the top 50 for the last three or four years, chances are it’s a Hermione situation - something from pop culture. So research that name in the years leading up to it’s popularity to make sure you know the pop-culture reference if there is one. There might be, but if there is someone will eventually pick up on it.
Another great way to pick something is family tradition. In my family there is a tradition of the men passing down middle names. There’s also a tradition of women passing down their middle names. For example, my middle name was my fathers middle name. When I transitioned, I knew that one of the things I wanted to do was continue that tradition - doubly so because my daughter has her mother’s middle name. I wanted my mothers middle name. Bonus for me, it also happened to be my wife’s grandmother’s middle name. That sealed the deal for me. Grandma was a huge supporter of my transition.
One of the things I had to consider then was whether or not my first name sounded good with my middle name. In our society there is thing were we unconsciously respond to names that sound good. Names that have a poetic lilt to them are “nice” names. Of course, this is a very western and very white thing.
If you are POC, you may have other naming conventions I am not aware of, depending on your culture. Also to consider, if you are POC, is whether or not you want a white passing name. Studies have shown that names that are perceived as ethnic get less attention on resumes than white sounding names. It’s a super shitty thing, and honestly whether or not it is appropriate or preferred, well, it really isn’t my place to delve into that. I suggest that if that is a concern, you seek out the QPOC community and talk to them.
The same thing happens for women. If you are transitioning to anything that will be perceived as feminine you may want to consider a name that shortens or has a nickname that is gender neutral. For example Samantha shortens to Sam, which means I can put Sam on my resume and it will not suffer from the initial gender bias on resumes. This was not a direct concern for me, but it was a bonus.
Another way is to name yourself after someone, real or fictional, that you admire. Especially if you are not concerned with fitting in or assimilation. It doesn’t matter if the name is age appropriate or even real if you don’t care. And parents do sometimes name their kids after fictional characters. I didn’t choose Samantha because of a character, but when it came down to sorting out my top pics it certainly didn’t hurt that I associate Samantha with a strong woman.
You can also ask yourself, what would you name your child? If you were to have a child, you make a list of names. So make a list of baby names. Baby name sites have a lot of advice on how to do that. The idea here isn’t that you pick a name for your imaginary child and name yourself that, rather, as you go through the process you will find names that you think suit you better. I know several people who used this method to pick their name.
I’m sure there are other ways, but hopefully that will get you started! Hopefully followers and the community might have some other ideas.
I want to talk about the women of Stargate, this show came out in 1997, and managed to have several incredibly well-developed strong women.
Samantha Carter: The face of the show and the actress is named the Grand Empress of Scifi. Sam herself is an incredible character. She was treated not only like a person, but respected as the military officer she was. She crushed anyone who dared to treat her differently for being a woman and one of her first lines of Stargate was “ I’m an Air Force officer just like you are, Colonel. And just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside, doesn’t mean I can’t handle whatever you can handle.” She crushed their sexist views and immediately held respect ever since. She is considered the smartest, one of the toughest, and most beautiful women on base.
Janet Fraiser: Firstly she was an in charge and ready to tell you what to do kind of doctor. She was known on the show to hold herself in a lady-like decorum, but the minute she saw you do something that could endanger your life she took charge. She was smart and unafraid of anything the SGC threw at her. She adopted an alien girl whose whole planet had been exterminated and became a single mom. She lost her husband long before joining the SGC, but never let it affect what she did. Janet Fraiser was not afraid to be bossy or feminine and knew that those two things will never be mutually exclusive.
Carolyn Lam: Carolyn was never considered a big member of the show by many fans, but she was just as strong and able as anyone else. She stepped in as almost a replacement for Janet after her death. Her father was the leader of the SGC and was estranged from her for years, but she still took a job she knew would boost her career and be a life changing experience. Carolyn had the least face time of anyone of SG1, but she had an immense amount of character-development that made her relatable to anyone with estranged and divorced parents.
Elizabeth Weir: Known for being one of the smartest people to ever cross the US government. She was a semi-diplomat mainly working in creating peace-treaties at dangerous waring countries. She was brought in by the NID because they thought she would be easy to control. In reality she broke more rules than any other leader of Atlantis, but saved it more than any leader ever will. She was smart and well-versed more focused on her work than her dating life but they never made her seem like she was broken or lost without one. They made her seem like a normal adjusted woman who chose to focus on her work and didn’t need a man to satisfy her.
Teyla Emmagon: Teyla was an alien woman who was also leader of her tribe who joined the Atlantis expedition in the hopes of keeping her people safe. Even though she wore an outfit that showed off her midrif, but no one ever saw her as a sexual object. She was treated with respect and was one of the best fighters in the Pegasus galaxy and was the only person on base able to take on Ronan Dex, the strong giant outcast of the base. She fought for her people and was cool-tempered never letting herself get over-emotional.
Jennifer Keller: Jennifer was never considered the strongest woman at Atlantis, but she was definitely not the weakest. She had character development out the wazoo and she was only on the show two or three seasons. They treated her like human being and became a valued part of the Atlantis team. Many people may think of her as just a love-interest for Rodney, but was so much more than that. She was a child protegee with pressure on her almost her entire life but she never let it over-whelm her and she became a doctor in another galaxy.
Vala Mal Doran: Probably one of the most unappreciated characters by the fan. She is considered over-sexualized and just a love-interest for Daniel. To me however she is just sexy and yes, at first she may have been there only to create love-interest for Daniel, but she became so much more. She became Sam’s best friend after Janet’s death and helped her move on in ways Sam couldn’t do on her own. She helped Daniel move past losing his wife and gave him a chance at love again. She crushed the patriarchy all while looking cute and being an alien on a foreign planet. Along with being an ex-con who had to prove herself worthy of being in SG1. She was a sexy cunning woman who was way more than a love-interest and was treated as such.
In conclusion Stargate was an incredible series that treated their women like people and developed their characters in ways other shows have yet to follow.