Adult Naming and Gender
(01/09/2019) | Categories:
| Naming Ceremonies |
Names 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
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
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
The process can be arduous. It involves disclosure time
and time again. Going into it after having a formal