Did you change your last name as well? If so, why? Kisses!
So the TLDR here is that I did choose to change my last name. So why did I do that?
Keep in mind I worked on this name while I was in therapy for a while. When I originally came up with the idea that I might want to do that it was out of fear. I had a fear that I might be rejected or disowned by family and friends. I was willing to go it alone but if I needed to then I didn’t want to be found — I wanted to start all over. So I spent time coming up with just-in-case names, like “break glass in case of emergency, disowning, or extreme isolation.” I’m a person who really, really likes to have Plan A, B, C and enough skill to improvise when all of those fail.
I wasn’t presenting then or even transitioning yet and all I had was my own thoughts. Nobody knew so nobody could help me work through it right? I know a lot of folks have kinda.. gotten the brunt of things that I did because I was afraid. I cut off friendships and connections with people preemptively for reasons that I totally understood at the time but looking back on them I was making decisions for other people about how they were going to feel about me and acting accordingly and that was a very bad time for all of us. To this day I’m still connecting with and apologizing to people I did that to, because it was wrong of me to take that agency from them.
That’s a bit of an aside though, the point is that in that place of fear I had this list of potential names that I could use that I liked and they all passed the mirror test (how do I feel when I practice introducing myself in the mirror with this name?) and just the more I thought about it... my life has been colored by a lack of control. My childhood was me being rocked about by things I had no power over and having things done to me that I was powerless to stop. I didn’t feel ownership over my body, my identity, or my life.
Even as I was getting ready to transition my body, I didn’t feel ownership over my own appearance, my name, my voice, my dress, my anything. It wasn’t just that I was worried folks would be disappointed — it was that I was worried folks would use their power to stop me or influence my path away from what I needed and I wasn’t confident in my ability to stand my ground for my own needs. I’ve gotten better at that, but the first parts of my transition medically were conducted in relative secret so that nobody could use power over me to hinder me in any way.
So how’s my last name figure into that? I am forever grateful for the name I received. It has a beautiful history and family that I’m proud to be a part of. Anyone who knows me personally knows how much I treasure and value my heritage and my family. Seriously, one of the names on my list of potential last names was from the Italian side of my family and I liked it and I wore it well when I tried it on but it just couldn’t do the thing for me that I needed.
And what I needed was agency and control. Choosing to change my whole name was about me taking ownership over myself, not about rejecting anything that was given to me. I needed this space to draw a line in the sand and say “this is me and I have power over this name and this body and this life.” Instead I chose names that were promises to myself about the person I wanted to be and the energy I wanted to have and project in my life. I chose names inspired by stories of survival, perseverance, and eventual triumph.
I ended up landing on Winters because I liked it and it resonated with my heart when I said it. There were other names I thought sounded better but when I said this one in the mirror, we were perfectly in sync. So I just kinda.. knew this was my name. I tested it out in public for a bit before I definitely decided I was going to take this name or change my last name at all, but after I got used to wearing the Winters name around for a while, I just realized it was me.
I loved my last name before, and I still do and always will. I treasure it as a name that was lovingly handed down to me through generations worth of marriages and stories and it holds a place of honor and sentiment in my heart. I started joking that changing my last name made me feel like I was getting married but it was only a half joke, I really do feel like taking a new last name was me making a strong, life long, commitment to myself — both the person that I am and the person I want to become.