A Real Name

I’m really pretty impressed with some of the things Natalie Reed has to say.

We met when I asked her if I could run her piece on the “Cotton Ceiling” and became Facebook friends.

Now I really liked this piece about “Real Names”.  I don’t give  the name my parents gave me at birth in the memoir, I’m writing, but I’m old and that name was attached to me for less than a third of my life and during much of that time I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

I’m really glad there are some fresh voices coming along.  People who aren’t bogged down in the endless transwars and people who are challenging all sorts of dogmatic thinking.

Now Natalie gave me permission to run this piece in its entirety but I’m not going to do that because I want you to click on the link and go to her blog and read it there I’m just going to give you a standard few paragraph teaser.

While you are at it read some of her other articles, cuz she has some really bright stuff to say.

From  Natalie Reed Free Thought Blogs:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/04/17/a-real-name/

Natalie Reed
April 17, 2012

“So, what’s your real name?”


“No, I mean like, your real name, the one you were born with.”

“My assigned name?”

“Yeah, your real one.”

“It wasn’t real, and it’s none of your business.”

I’ve always found it interesting, this idea of a name’s “realness”. That a chosen name is not real but the ones arbitrarily imposed on us, before our selfhood had been in any way articulated, before there was really an “us” to name, are. To me it seems like such a silly, weird inversion of everything the concept of a name actually signifies, at least in my mind.

Names carry a great deal of weight and significance. I’d almost go so far as to say they have a nearly metaphysical power. A name is ultimately just a word that, like any word, is really just arbitrary sounds and squiggles that only carry any potency or meaning by way of the associations and significance we, cooperatively, invest in them. But a name is a particularly powerful word in that the significance we’ve poured into it, the association it makes, is with us, with our selves. That overarching, aggregate, emergent coalescence of our cognitive processes, the singifier that signifies not only all we are, but also the being of all we are, the are-ness itself (without which all the other signifiers dissolve back into noise… if not less. If not less than less.)

The name is that which signifies the self.

We have a habit of denigrating and dismissing chosen names. We’ll put little scare quotes around them, speak them in a satirical tone, engage with their use in the context of humouring someone. It seems like there’s this immense, subconscious drive to dismiss the possibility of a name that extends from the self it signifies. This dismissal becomes particularly strong when we refuse to accept the premise on which the name was selected. For instance, if we reject new age principles, or hippy / environmentalist culture in general, we’ll happily mock someone for having chosen the name Sage or Dharma or Windleaf. If we think it’s silly for people to convert to Islam, we’ll mock their conversion names. And yes, if we deny the legitimacy of someone’s transgender identity, one of the most cutting, hurtful and easy ways to make that position clear is to deny a trans person’s chosen name.

Now go on over to her blog and read the rest:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/04/17/a-real-name/

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