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How to Handle Transgender Name Changes as a Cisgender Person

May 3rd, 2017

When I was in 9th grade, I met a boy. THE boy.

Or, you know, so I thought in 9th grade…and then 10th grade…and then part of 11th grade…and then I rarely spoke to him because his girlfriend was crazy jealous of me and showed up at my parents’ house with friends and baseball bats and threatened to beat me to death if I did, and it was easier for him if I stayed away because when we got caught talking, she’d threaten suicide. ANYway…

He was the boy that got away. The one I would always (I thought in high school) love more than anyone else. And probably the biggest point of contention between me and my ex (besides the abuse) even though most of the time, I didn’t even see or talk to him because of the aforementioned girlfriend.

I’m not in love with him anymore, obviously, but I think about him occasionally. Did he ever reach his life goal of owning a McDonalds? Did he get away from the aforementioned abusive girl he dated on and off throughout high school? Does he still hang out with the people we used to hang out with? Did he ever put together that jazz band he wanted?

But most of all, I think about his name.

When I saw him for the first time, we were in concert band class. I played trumpet. He played bass sax. He had shoulder length hair, and an adorable speech impediment, and wore Wu-Tang shirts ironically. And I waited impatiently for months for the director, who never did roll call, to call his name so I could approach him in the hall.

And then, he finally did it. “David? David White*? Are you here today?”


When class was over, I followed him to his locker and introduced myself as “the girl who sits behind you in band class.”

He replied, “Well, if we’re going to be friends, you might as well start calling me by my real name.”

As it turned out, David was his father’s name, and he absolutely hated his father. It wasn’t something he was willing to talk about, so I never learned why. But when he told me what he liked to be called, I immediately stopped calling him David, and started calling him by his preferred name.

And that’s how cisgender people should handle transgender people changing their names. It’s that simple.

P.S. No, I don’t know if this means I’m coming off hiatus. Shhh…just let it happen.

*Name changed to protect his and my identities.

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