If Anything I Smell Sweeter

When I first started calling myself a different name than the one my mother gave me, I was 11. It didn’t stick (online handles formed in adolescence often don’t - don’t @ me if yours did) but it felt right to be called something else.

My mother, in her infinite logic and wisdom, named me - as a baby marked F - after her dead grandfather’s surname. Ostensibly gender neutral, gender was never my problem with the name. When my caretakers used this name for me in the process of their abuse, it was not to enforce a gendered norm upon me. In fact, until after puberty, my gender nonconformity was seen in a positive light by the misogynists who raised me. “Rebelling” against the femininity they hated wasn’t mocked, but encouraged. (And mocking that femininity in my sisters was also very encouraged.)

Understanding myself as nonbinary, then, didn’t necessitate a name change on that ground - but understanding myself as a survivor of abuse did. As I got far, far away from those people and began a journey of healing, the trans community that accepted me as nonbinary were happy to encourage me to change my name, as many trans people do, but I wasn’t doing it for them. They just made it easier. (As, in my opinion, everyone should - I am, for obvious reasons, very in favor of encouraging anyone who wants to do so to change their name, regardless of gender.)

So, then, when my gender has done its fluid dance and brought me around to something approximating nonbinary womanhood, I don’t feel like I have to “go back” to my given name. That name doesn’t mean “me as a woman” to me, it means “me as a child, being abused”, and I’m just as happy as I ever was to leave it discarded. Instead, this change is an extension of the healing and growing process I was already on the path of, so is it not fitting to decide on a name that is an extension of the name I already use?

I’ve been going by the name Alexi since 2014, almost ten years, and despite not processing any legal name change, that’s what all of my friends and coworkers have called me since then. In this new light I see myself under, I have chosen not to discard this name, but simply to make it short for a longer, truer name: Alexandra.

Alexandra Lily Davis. That’s me. That’s my name. It’s beautiful and it makes me so happy and it represents years of healing, finally overcoming self-loathing, and finding a sense of peace and happiness I hadn’t understood was possible.