Your Name
Posted by horrorreader
1st Aug 2017


Our ‘Given Name’
Most of us are given our names at birth by our parents, hence ‘given name’. Some of us are Christened in church, which is to be baptised, in the eyes of God, as a child of God; hence ‘Christian name’. Our ‘given name’ may also be known as our first name, forename or Christian name (even if we are not baptised).

The majority of us keep our given names throughout our lives without giving them a second thought. But what if we do not like our given name? What if our name has brought with it ridicule or bullying? What if our names bring with them baggage we wish to forget?

Registering and Birth Certificates
In England, a child’s birth must be legally registered at a registry office within 42 days of the baby’s birth date. A first name (given name) is not legally required at this point and can be left blank. If no first name is given at this point then the birth certificate will be issued without it. Parents have up to one year to enter their child’s name on to the register.

Parent’s choice of a name and government intervention
In England, we are allowed to name our children whatever we want, but many countries have laws in place regulating children’s names. For example, in Italy it is illegal to name a child with a ridiculous or shameful name, Portugal, Hungary, Iceland and Denmark have lists of approved names you must choose from. Iceland, Denmark and Germany insist that gender can be defined by a name.

Definition’s imposed on us/Definition’s embraced by us
In life, we are born and brought into this world by our biological parents. Our gender is defined by our genitals, we are deemed male or female by society and are then named accordingly by our family.

Some of us in life will embrace our given name; we will love and respect our family for giving it to us. We will try to make our family proud and will want our name to be known. Some people, when they speak their given name, will radiate with pride and demand respect at being that person. People may find comfort from their given names if they have been named after a specific person who is much loved and respected.

However, others of us may feel that our names are not just given to us but are imposed on us. We can feel burdened by our names. Some of us may feel that a name is a pre-conceived idea of who we are and what we will become. It is a step onto the pathway of our lives that we have had no control over.

This age and generation has developed a voice; social media has enabled communication as communication has never been before. It has strength, movement and power. There are many people out there that have been extremely brave and admitted to things that others may never have been able to regarding feelings, sexuality, gender and individuality. Acceptance is on everybody’s lips, there is a war against prejudice.

Amongst the things that we are fighting for is control of our identity.

I find it puzzling that we so readily accept our given names. As a sufferer of long-term abuse, I felt that the persona I had been moulded into was one that my name portrayed. I felt that my name was a label of shame and mockery. My given name, and middle name, led to a lot of teasing and ridicule for me growing up, even by my own family. In 2015, I came to the decision of taking control and changing my given name. It felt, and still feels, amazing.

Upsetting other people
It is likely that some people will feel that changing one’s given name is a sign of disrespect to their family, even an insult, which I can understand. Our biological families give us life, but they do not own us. As we grow up and become adults we are deemed individuals. We are legally our own person; we have our own lives to lead and we have choice. Choice can be a much-overlooked strength. Along with strength comes a voice. Using choice and our voice enables us to move forward in our development as a person and as human beings.

The dynamics of changing your given name
Changing your given name in this country is not difficult. Anyone can begin using a different name at any time, but to legally change your name you must be a British citizen over the age of 16. You can either use a deed poll or statutory declaration, both of which are extensively detailed (and available) on the internet.

I chose to change my name using a government deed poll that was statutorily witnessed by a solicitor and enrolled by the Supreme Court Central Office. In doing this I ensured that my name change was a matter of public record and was announced in the London Gazette. For me this was an empowering procedure that I chose for me. I wanted to announce that I had the right to change my given name and announce it to the world.

A name
A name can be a gift to cherish forever. It can be a beacon of hope, the development of something beautiful. But a name can also be a burden, a reminder of things that were. A new name or slight change to a given name can mean new horizons for person who needs to take ownership of their lives.

By @HorrorReader on twitter

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