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What's In A Name?

by Josey Pickering 2 months ago in Identity
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On finding a new name for myself

What's In A Name?
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Josey isn't my birth name. Sometimes it confuses people, why did I change it? What's wrong with the name I had? People from my past have a hard time adjusting to the name change and using it for themselves. Sometimes they slip, but for the most part, everyone tries, even if they don't quite understand WHY. I spent most of my life under a different name, and my adult life under a nickname that would become my new first name. I get how it can be a difficult adjustment, but I also try to be open about why when people get critical.

First and foremost, I am non-binary. Whilst I am femme passing, I wanted to use a more gender neutral name, and really liked Josey and using the traditionally masculine spelling. I tested it out and began using it and it fit like a glove. For a couple years, a few of my friends called me JJ, a nickname developed from a shared love of the show Criminal Minds. It got to the point where they'd call me JJ in public and people would ask what it stood for and I'd have no answer, so Josey became one of the ideas for my new chosen name, evolving out of the JJ nickname. Using Josey online also made it a little harder for people to assume my gender and helped me feel more free to actually be my genderfluid self. Even in public, more and more people are calling me they instead of jumping to she and it's helping me to feel even more comfortable in my body. Finding the right name for me as a non-binary person helps to make my life better, and helps me accept myself.

Another reason that I changed my name was...well, trauma. In junior high & high school, I had a friend who shared my birth name, spelled the exact same way and it was the first thing we bonded over. We went to the same church group, and would talk in the back of group about being queer and not fitting in with everyone around us. She died when we were still kids, me fresh out of high school, and it honestly changed me in many ways. I came face to face with a different type of loss and a lot of confusion. The pain was overwhelming and and times it felt like I was drowning from grief alone. Carrying the name for both of us just seemed too heavy. Instead, I got her handwriting tattooed to keep her with me always. In time, I've worked with my grief and sitting with my emotions regarding her loss, but I've also chosen a name for myself that better fits how I truly feel inside, and I know she would love and respect that. To some it may seem strange, but to me, it was what felt right for me and I found a better way to honor my friend.

Our names hold a lot of power, and not feeling comfortable or right in your name can be suffocating. Your name can say so much about you, even if it's truly just another word. To me, my birth name felt like a shirt that didn't quite fit right. It worked when I needed it too, but it wasn't something I felt I could wear all the time. Instead, I adopted a new name that better fit who I was inside and outside, a better expression of myself. And that is the story of my name, and how I became Josey and settled into my skin.


About the author

Josey Pickering

Autistic, non-binary, queer horror nerd with a lot to say.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insight

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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