What’s in a name?

“What’s in a name?” -Shakespeare

My dad started teaching English and History in 2001, when I was 4 years old. I don’t remember specifics about that time, but I do know that being around stories my whole life has helped me develop some traits that I really value in myself: imagination, empathy, and, most important to this subject, a deep respect for personhood and everything that makes people who they are.


One aspect of personhood that I’ve always been really fond of, especially since I’ve been writing my own stories, is names. I know not everyone feels this way about them, but, to me, names are that thing that hold the essence of a person. In stories, names can carry meanings that tell you something essential about the character. In reality, a name can instantly bring to mind images of a person you love, who makes you smile and makes life better. It can just as quickly conjure up images of the opposite.


As I’ve been exploring my relationship with gender and which labels and pronouns fit best for me, I’ve never really had a desire to choose a different name, though I completely respect other transgender people who decide their birth name doesn’t fit who they are. As I said, I believe names hold the essence of a person, and I’ll defend a person’s right to choose the name which does that for them to the end of time. But I digress. My point is, my name was never a source of discomfort for me. That is, it never caused me to feel uncomfortable in my pangender self. By contrast, I’ve never really felt super content with my pronouns for very long. Using she/her wasn’t right, as it felt too restrictive and didn’t completely align with my experience with gender. The same can be said for he/him. But they/them pronouns, which I’ve been using publicly since December of last year, feel vague and slightly wrong, too.


And y’know what? I finally figured out why.


No pronouns are me. My name is me. Jordanne is my life experience. Jordanne is my history. Jordanne’s my essence and every little complicated nuance that makes up the disabled, Jesus loving, white, anarchist, graysexual, omniromantic, pangender humxn I am.


So, what’s in a name? Everything, Shakespeare.

Everything that a pronoun could never encapsulate. And I’m going to use that name of mine as much as I can. I respectfully ask you to use it when referring to me, too.

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1 thought on “What’s in a name?

  1. Agree with you about the importance of names. They hold a very powerful piece of what we are. No one should feel bad about choosing a name that reflects who they really are.

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