How to Choose a Name when Changing It

Three Methods:Finding InspirationChoosing a Name for a Sex ChangeTesting a Name

You've decided to change your name, but you aren't sure what to change it to. Pick a name that you love, and pick a name that feels right. Think about how you want to represent yourself, and try to find a name that speaks to those qualities. You can find inspiration almost anywhere – so start exploring!

Method 1
Finding Inspiration

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    Find a name that represents your personality. A name is a powerful thing, and it can say a lot about you. Think about the connotations of each name, and imagine the kind of person that you associate with that name. Consider how you want to represent yourself. You can find inspiration anywhere you look, but ultimately your choice will come down to something that feels right – something that fits.
    • If you want your name to blend in, choose something common and classic: Joseph, William, Mary, Elizabeth.
    • If you want your name to stand out, choose something less traditional.[1]
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    Look through a baby name book or website. Write down any names that appeal to you. Peruse a list of thousands of possible names, and wait for something to stand out. If you care about the meaning and etymology of your name, make sure to read the origin of each name.
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    Name yourself after something you find beautiful or symbolic. This word need not even be a traditional human name – it just needs to be something that you feel represents you on a deep, existential level. Bear in mind that a unique name may draw attention to you.
    • Choose a color that you've always liked, such as Rose, Indigo, Scarlett, or Emerald. Don't be afraid to choose something that isn't traditionally used as a person name: Blue, or Topaz, or Cinnabar, or Vermilion.
    • Draw inspiration from a plant. Choose a flower, like Lily, Daisy, Belladonna, or Aster.[2] An herb or spice: Sage, Pepper, Basil. A tree: Magnolia, Aspen, Willow. Ivy, Peach, Juniper; Pippin.
    • Borrow your name from a piece of the world that speaks to you. River, Mountain, Cloud, Rain; Autumn, Blossom, Boulder, Moonshine; Dawn, Ravine, Fog, Flight. Name yourself for an animal (Bear, Fox, Badger) or a place (London, Kili, Sequoia).[3]
    • Adopt a word or idea that you find particularly lovely. Morning, Serenity, Cellar, Yonder. August, Aura, Apricot, Joy. Follow your heart. You can name yourself anything!
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    Borrow the name of a fictional character. This can range from the nontraditional (Bilbo, Brock, Huck) to the fairly inauspicious (Cedric; Samwise). Pick a character that you aspire to be like, or just pick a name that you appreciate. Bear in mind that if your name is obviously derived from a character in a story, people may call attention to the connection, and they may compare you to that character. Consider whether this is an association that you want people to make.
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    Choose an old name. Walk around a cemetery reading the headstones; flip through history books and ancient records; choose a name held by one of your ancestors. You can give a unique flavor to your moniker by picking up a name that doesn't get used much anymore. Gertrude, Beatrice, Cornelius, Rutherford. This is a way to pay homage to the past and choose a traditional human name that is still unique.
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    Name yourself after someone inspiring. Think about personal heroes, illustrious family members, or famous historical figures. Be aware that when you borrow someone else's name, you permanently associate yourself with that person's deeds, words, and personality. Ask yourself whether you want to pay homage to another person in this way. Think about how this decision will affect your self-identity.
    • Consider changing your name to that of a family member who did something brave or good. This can get confusing if they're still alive, so you may want to talk to them about it first.[4]
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    Consider alternative spellings and names similar to your own. This is a way to make your name feel more unique (or more "you") without making a dramatic shift. For example, the name Mackenzie could also be spelled McKenzi or Makenzee. You may want to pick something unique and creative versus the typical spellings. If you have a more traditional name, like Elizabeth, you might change your name to Bethany if you really like being called Beth.

Method 2
Choosing a Name for a Sex Change

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    Try out a gender-neutral nickname. This is an easy way to shape your identity without legally changing your name. Whether you identify as Alexander or Alexandra, you can call yourself Alex. Samuel and Samantha can be Sam. Jordan can easily become Jordy or Jordi. If nothing else, this can be a solid interim step while you think about a more permanent name change.
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    Use the feminine or masculine form of your birth name. It is often easy to make your birth name sound a bit more "masculine" or "feminine" by changing around a few letters. This is a simple way to transmute your name without choosing something completely new. Try building off of the first syllable: David to Dana, Zachary to Zandra, Ronald to Robin.
    • Visit and scroll down to either the "Girls' Names into Boys' Names" heading or the "Boys' Names into Girls' Names" heading. If your original name is on the list, check for any common masculine or feminine forms.
    • Examples for trans women: Paul to Paula, George to Georgia, James to Jamie, Daniel to Danielle, Michael to Michelle or Michaela/Mikayla, Andrew to Andrea.
    • Examples for trans men: Georgia to George, Nicole to Nicholas, Alexandra to Alexander, Christine to Christopher.[5]
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    Choose a name that you love. Don't feel the need to cater to any rules or norms, and remember that you don't need to keep things close to what they've been. If there is a name to which you have always been particularly drawn, choose that name. You don't have to choose a name that is similar to your birth name. If your birth name is "Martin" and you are transitioning to female, you do not have to choose "Martha" when you have always loved the name "Laura". If your birth name is "Cecilia", you do not have to chose "Cecil" if you've always liked the name "Ashton".
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    Pick a name that suits your new identity. If you are going through a sex change, you may feel empowered to explore parts of your personality that you were afraid to embrace before. Think about the identity that you intend to cultivate, and choose a name that fits with your vision for the new you. You may have connotations about certain names: tough, sweet, adventurous, etc. Pick a name that helps you become who you want to become.
    • Name yourself after someone inspiring. If you grew up idolizing Marilyn Monroe, don't be afraid to change your name to Marilyn.

Method 3
Testing a Name

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    Choose your new name carefully. Legally changing your name is a serious decision, so make sure to pick a name that you like enough to keep. Before you commit to any particular name, consider trying it on for size. Use in public, ask your loved ones, and try to imagine yourself walking through life with this particular name.
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    Introduce yourself to strangers using your new name. Try the name on, and see how it fits. The stranger can be your Starbucks barista or someone you meet in a bar – anyone who doesn't know you by your birth name. Try it: when you leave the house today, set yourself the goal of introducing yourself as [your new name] to at least one person.
    • Make sure that you aren't with anyone who knows you by your birth name – or at least explain what you're doing beforehand. If you bring along a friend who knows that you're choosing a new name, you may feel much more comfortable introducing yourself.
    • Be mindful when introducing yourself to friends of friends, or to people who you might encounter in the course of "everyday life". If too many people know you by too many names, you may eventually find yourself at the center of a confusing or embarrassing situation.
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    Ask friends whether they can see you with this name. Simply say, "Can you see me as a Theodore?" Tell them that you want an honest, objective opinion, unclouded by their knowledge of your current name. Don't feel pressured to act on their opinions, although you may find this process a useful way to guide your decision.
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    Write your name. Write your potential new name out on a piece of paper, and see how it looks. Ask yourself whether it feels "right" to spell your name this way. Try writing it along with your last name; try scrawling out a signature. Read it aloud to yourself.
    • If you're deciding between a few possible names, try writing all of them out on the same page. See which names leap out at you. Odds are, you'll be most drawn to one or two choices. It may be easier to compare your options when they're laid out before you.


  • Make sure you choose a name you actually like. It can be expensive and confusing to change your name many times over.
  • Use your new name for at least a few months before you change it legally. Have your friends and family members call you by the new name. If you are introduced by your current name say "but everyone calls me ____" or "I prefer ____". Remember: it isn't always easy to get people to call you by a new name.


  • Take caution when choosing your name. Avoid any embarrassing initials or unintentional name associations.

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Categories: Personal Care and Style