Adult Naming and Gender Affirmation Ceremonies

by Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant  © (01/09/2019)
Categories:  | Naming Ceremonies |
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Neon sign reading ChangeNames have sacred significance. They matter. They are integral to our view of who we are.

From time immemorial, choosing and giving a person a name has been considered a grave responsibility, an act that has great symbolic, social, and emotional significance because a name is a lifetime gift. This is recognised in both the religious practice of baptism or christening, and in the secular practice of holding a naming ceremony for a child.

When we name a child, we are expressing both parental love and cultural roots. When an adult is transitioning, choosing a new name to match your identity, is a very important part of the process. Adult naming ceremonies are therefore equally significant.

In a naming ceremony we share why the name was chosen. We reflect on the hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the future. And, regardless that the child has already been named when the birth was registered, we formally give them their name. We celebrate the child as an individual of great potential. What we do not articulate is that a naming ceremony is also an affirmation of gender.

Naming Ceremonies as part of Transitioning


An essential part of transitioning is choosing a new name.   Celebrating that name change, that validation of becoming the person you've always known you are, can be a powerful mechanism for social transitioning, for letting others know your true gender and beginning to live your life.

A naming ceremony gives you the opportunity to explain the reason you chose your new name, and give others an insight into the emotions behind your new name. It gives you a validation of your decision in terms of a printed naming certificate. That's a joyous moment, even though a naming ceremony effects no legal change. Rather, it is an opportunity to gather supportive people round you. People who you will be able to turn to as you work you way through the daunting legal process for changing both your name and your gender on a wide range of official documentation.

There are no legal issues with having a naming ceremony to announce your new name, or to celebrate it.  Australia's system of law is Common Law, which allows any person to call themselves anything they wish, as long as you are not doing it for fraudulent purposes. However, the reality is that official panic over terrorism, money laundering, and other criminal activity has created a climate in which official documentation is required for many purposes, most of them financial, some of them to do with civic responsibilities such as compulsory voting.

The process can be arduous. It involves disclosure time and time again. Going into it after having a formal celebration helps.

Thanks for reading!
Jenny xxx Let's talk soon about how you can
                      have the best ceremony ever

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