If someone asks me what my birthname/old name is I will politely say I’m not going to answer that. If you had asked me the same question 2/3 years ago I probably would have answered it because I didn’t feel like I could say ‘no I won’t answer that’ In fact there was even a youtube video I did where I said what my birthname was, I have now deleted said video.
On friday I was doing LGBT awareness training to year 9 students at a secondary school, I think I was asked that question 4 times, each time I declined to answer, everyone was ok with me not answering it, but why is it so fascinating to know a persons name they no longer use and haven’t used for over 4 years.
My birthname is online, but I don’t wish for it to be removed as it is in a review for a concert I did with the National Youth Wind Orchestra, saying I played an excellent solo in a piece we played, so I don’t want it removed. One of my football trophies on display in my lounge says my birthname on it, again I’m not going to remove it, yes it isn’t obvious, but then again all my football trophies have figures on which are women and they are on display, so I am not trying to and never would hide my past. However, why do people need to know a name that I haven’t been called for years, that isn’t on my passport, cards, or even my birth certificate anymore, how is it going to affect someone to know that name.
Yes there are people out there who do know my old name, either because they knew me before I came out, or because I told them.
I remember a few years ago doing LGBT awareness training to teachers in a secondary school and one teacher asked me for my old name and I told her, her response was ‘oh that is a lovely name, such a shame to change it’ which felt to me like she was saying a) my name now is not a nice name and b) that she doesn’t accept that I am a trans man who doesn’t want a female name.
I will be honest that when I was looking at names to call myself when coming out I was very sad to leave my old name behind, because I really like my old name, I tried to think of anyway I could keep it or a shortened version of it, but there is no way I could make it sound male or gender neutral, it is a female name. On the other hand I couldn’t wait to get rid of my old middle name, I remember when I was about 8/9 telling my mum I wanted to change it to a male version of it. My mum suggested my new middle name to be that male version I had wanted when I was younger, however I couldn’t have a name so close to is, that in the end I chose no middle name.
So if you ask me what my old name was, I won’t be offended, just expect to get the answer of ‘I’m not going to answer that’ I know some of you know my old name and I hope I can trust you that if someone asked you for my old name that you would not tell them.
So yes I was sad to see my old name go, I know many trans people hate their birthname and I have even heard some people refer to it as their dead name, I will never do that, it is a name I did and do love and while I was called it I feel it suited me, however now I have gained a name I absolutely love and still suits me and is my name and the only name you need to know me by. Oh and for the record it is Oliver, NOT Oli!