Few people actually go out of their way to change their first name. It’s just the name they were born with, and they’re perfectly happy with that. Unfortunately, my old name didn’t suit me, since it was given to me under the assumption that I was male, but that’s not the case. With that in mind, I had the chance to choose a new name, which was an interesting experience.
When choosing a new name there are a few factors to take into consideration. One big one is familial ties. My old name came from several of my Great Grandfathers, so initially I wanted to keep that in mind. Thing is, there weren’t any obvious standouts for me to name myself after. And then there’s also the point, would that person even like me naming myself after them (if they’re alive), or might someone be offended? At the time I picked my name, it wasn’t clear if my family was even on board with my transition: it’s kind of a sore point for some, though everything seems to be ironed out by now.
So, next up, what would my parents have named me if the Doc proclaimed “It’s a girl!” instead of assuming the opposite? Well, most likely Nicole. That name... didn’t really ring true to me. I have a cousin with the name, and I know slightly over 9000 other Nicoles, and to me, it doesn’t really describe me. So, back to the drawing board - Parents didn’t have any other ideas.
I thought of many other names: One was the feminine version of my old name. That option had two issues: For one, it sounds like it should belong to an older woman. Secondly, I flat out didn’t like the idea of still being associated with another version of my old name, so anything related to that is out. Other names were just ones I was fond of... but most of them reminded me of people, and I didn’t want anyone to think I was “taking” their name.
The number one choice on my list was Eris. Eris is the Goddess of Chaos, Strife, and Discord in Greek mythology. She’s also a religious figure in Discordianism, a religion that has resonated with me. It’s also not a name I’ve ever heard used for an actual person. Chaos and Disorder are important concepts for me... Without chaos, the universe really can’t move forward. In a way, it shouldn’t be order which is revered: Order is boring. Order doesn’t bring about change — Chaos does. So, who better to name myself after than Eris?
I’d keep going down the list... Eris isn’t a great name. Nobody has really heard of it before. It can totally be misread as Erin or worse, Eric... But I really had an attachment to it as my name. No matter what else I thought of, I’d keep going back to Eris. I tried it out for a while and loved it, so much. I remember when I first told my friends (at a Cinco de Mayo party), I felt so elated and freed that I probably had too good of a time that night.
That settled it: I picked my first name. As a sort of agreement, I let my Mom pick my middle name. She, obviously, picked Renée. She liked the “rebirth” connotation, though she was worried that people may associate it with Renée Richards. However, Renée Richards is an amazing person who I look up to, and a great role model. I also love the name because my transition was absolutely a rebirth of sorts, and it sounds nice when paired with my first name.
I joke that in some ways, I’m like the Goddess of Chaos, reborn. It’s very fun to think about.