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location:  Transition  >  Name Change  >  Making the Decision

My Birth Name When I first identifying as transgender, people always said how lucky I was to be born with a traditionally male's name. I have always been told that my parents expected me to be a boy, and they could both think of only one name that they both liked. Justin. When I turned out to be female, they decided to keep it. Right before I came out my parents as transgender, I asked my mom why she thought I was going to be a boy. She said, "Just mothers intuition, I guess. But mother's intuition was wrong." I wanted to tell her that it had really been right, and that I'm glad my birth name is Justin. It certainly has made it easier in passing before I change it.

I strugled with the idea of changing my name for a long time. I knew that I was "lucky" to have been given a traditionally male's name, but that didn't matter to me because of my association with that name. When I would introduce myself using my birth name, more often than not, people would say something like, "Is it....Justin? *pause* Or Justine?" My rational side knows that the name Justin is really a "boys" name, but my emotional side still feels like it's a girl's name. And, for that reason, I knew what I needed to do. Certainly, keeping Justin would be easier, and no one but me would know the difference. But, I knew I needed to change it. For me. To Change or Not to Change?

Choosing a
First Name
I started looking through baby name books and online naming resources. I had narrowed it down to a couple of my favorite names when all of these weird things started happening with one of the names in particular. My favorite character on Survivor, with that name, won the competition. Someone randomly pointed out that name on some crafts at an art show both. Weird, and random things. And I'm not one that believes in "signs" or anything, but I did feel like it meant something. So Ethan became my first name. And that was that.

My largest strugle came when deciding what to do about my middle and last names. I wanted to preserve some sort of family tie regarding my name, but I wasn't sure how I wanted to do that. I have never identified with my last name so I was originally going to make my birth middle name my last name and drop my birth last name. To keep ties with my father, I was going to keep my birth first name Justin, as my parents were originally very upset about me dropping the name Justin, the one "they both gave me out of love." I had almost decided on Ethan J. Daniel F______ when my mother came to visit for my doctor's appointment. She mentioned that my father saw something on my online blog about my name and was "very hurt" about the idea of me dropping his name. I began to reconsider. Preserving Family Ties
the Choice
I realized that I was now in a position of choosing which side of my family I was going to hurt...not a very happy situation to be in. If I kept my birth last name and dropped my birth middle name (my mother's maiden name), I would hurt my mother's family, with whom I am very close. If i dropped my birth last name and kept my birth middle name, I would hurt my father. I didn't want to have to choose which one was going to be hurt and which one was not going to be hurt. I came to the conclusion that I would have to either keep both names or get rid of them both.

I kept researching names for possible last-names and came upon a couple I really liked. I considered using my father's middle name Alan as my last name, but Ethan Alan didn't really seem like a good idea for a name, considering my Vermont residence and all. I was already really attached to Daniel as a middle name so I scratched the last-name possibility of Davison (meaning "son of David"; my father's name is David). After making a list of possible names I liked, the one that just felt the best was the one keeping both my birth middle name and my birth last name, hyphenated as one last name. Perhaps that's because I'm already used to it, I'm not sure. But it makes me happy, and I think it will make everyone else happy, too. So there you have it. Ethan Daniel F______-L______. For how I went about legally changing it, check out the Legal Process and Photos pages. The Final Decision