I’m changing my first and middle names.
I am getting rid of Stephanie Ann. My first name is going to be Hawthorn. (no e- like the tree, not the author.) My middle name is chosen, but I’m keeping to myself for now.
This is something I’ve been actively planning for over two years, but I’ve been thinking about it for more than 20, because I’ve always disliked my name and did not feel like it fit me. I have always been more gender-neutral than my name is, and I am in a place where I can’t tolerate a name I don’t connect with anymore.
My wife Stephanie has known about this for several years and is supportive of me changing names. We have talked through all of my ideas together. I’ve let my immediate family know about this. Most of them are onboard with it. Some of them are going to have to get onboard.
I’ll be starting the legal name change process soon, and it will take a month or so before that is all in place, and I’ll start changing things like credit cards and bank accounts and then my online presence.
I realize this is a big change for someone who has had the same name for 47 years, and that remembering it and calling me that name and thinking about me differently is a pretty big challenge.
That weird feeling you may have about my new name feeling strange to you – that’s the feeling I’ve always had about my old name – it doesn’t feel right. It’s a period of adjustment, but I have confidence you all are smart and capable people and can rise to the occasion.
I know people will have ideas, opinions or commentary about this. Please share your thoughts with me directly in a phone call or face-to-face conversation, rather than gossiping or commenting on social media.
The decision tree of names I’ve thought through and discarded is 786 lines long. I’ve gone through literally hundreds of names in the past few years trying them on and seeing how they fit. Naming yourself is hard. But I’ve found a name I actually love – it’s unique, gender neutral, has an outdoors/natural quality to it. Hawthorn is unusual as a first name, so there aren’t hundreds of little kids running around with the same name, nor do I have cousins or family members with that name, which are also bonuses.