Bond, James Bo... I mean JANE Bond
January 19, 2015 10:59 AM   Subscribe

I've changed my name. Is there any tool to help me update my online presence accordingly? Snowflake details inside.

I'm a recently transitioned trans woman, currently in the process of coming out to family, acquaintances, and friend who I haven't seen in a while and don't know I've transitioned. My legal name is still the same due to reasons not relevant to this question, but I will change it as soon as I can.

Original as I am, I have my masculine first name on my old email address and my feminine first name on my new email address. Over the years I have used that email address to sign up for newsletters, forums (where in many cases I also had my masculine first name as username) and other web services, some of which I may have forgotten about but I may want to keep.

Needless to say I don't want to use that name not that email address anymore. I've had that address since when you needed to be invited to gmail and I delete very little, so I have tens of thousands of emails in there, going through all of them manually to make sure I don't forget anything would take more time than it's worth.

Is there any program, website, Android app, or idea to request to update all or most those memberships automatically, or at least pull up a list so I can make sure not to miss anything and decide if I let go of some?

Both email addresses are on gmail if that matters.
posted by Promethea to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have an offline mail client, like Outlook or Thunderbird? Not sure about Thunderbird, but Outlook lets you group emails by sender, so that you could make sure you're not missing a membership.

I think you're going to have to log in to each forum, newsletter etc to change your email address. Any automated tool seems like it would be prone to hijinks. Can you forward all your emails from OLD ACCOUNT to NEW ACCOUNT and tag them with a label? That way you'll get a reminder to log in and change your settings when you receive the email.
posted by desjardins at 11:14 AM on January 19, 2015

One easy technique is to search your inbox for the word "unsubscribe" - any listserv or newsletter will probably have that somewhere within the email text. You still have to update the information manually but it should give you a fairly comprehensive list to go through.

Otherwise, would you be interested in forwarding all incoming mail to your new account? You could do this for ~6 months or so to make sure you don't miss anything important. Don't cancel that account - keep it around, and keep the password memorized so you can check it once in awhile, especially if you're not keeping automatic forwarding turned on.

I might be inclined to see which ones I miss - which ones do you actively search out or miss receiving? Re-subscribe to those. Any that you forget about you can probably let go. It might be a useful time for some digital housecleaning!
posted by barnone at 11:23 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Gmail has a built in feature in settings that lets you forward mail from various Gmail or email accounts to just the one. There is a simple drop down menu so you can decide which account to send your email from when you are writing an email. I run 3 different email addresses from the one Gmail account, it does take an extra second or 2 sometimes to make sure the right email is coming from the right email address when replying. You could set up your old account as the "main" one so you don't have to worry about old messages or sites you missed updating info on, but could receive & reply to emails under your new name from it as well. Or visa versa, forward from your old email to your new, but that wouldn't transfer all the old emails.

While that would work logistically in that you would get the emails to your new address it doesn't change the info the sites sending the info have about you so may not directly address your question. It might work as a stopgap if you have to manually update to your new info.
posted by wwax at 11:31 AM on January 19, 2015

I agree with's built-in forwarding and reply-from system accomplish this beautifully. I've had an old email address I no longer really use forwarded to my new email address for years now. I think I still occasionally get emails that come to the old address, but I don't even notice it.
posted by nosila at 11:48 AM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't have an offline client. My computer screen broke and I won't be able to have it fixed for a while, not the right moment to buy a new one either. I'm posting from a crappy Alcatel tablet with very little storage I probably shouldn't have bought.

I don't mind changing each subscription manually, but of course if even part of it can be done automatically it would be great. I realize I won't be able to update some at all (like MeFi, hence the new account). Just getting a good list of the places I've ever signed up on with the old email address would save me a lot of time.

For me the housecleaning may include getting back to some old forums or getting back on newsletters that stopped sending me emails when at some point I didn't have time to read them, but that I may still be interested in getting them.

The problem with forwarding as a permanent or semi permanent solution is one I can't expect most of you to think about, as it is a consequence of gender dysphoria. I really really really really want to get that name out of my life. I don't want to receive emails addressing me by that name.

I'll try barnone's first solution. If the tablet can't handle that search (very likely) I'll try tomorrow from a lan house. If anybody can think of a better way, please tell me, as it looks like it would still be a lot, specially if I can't also sort by sender or sender's domain.

Thank you all for the answers!
posted by Promethea at 1:06 PM on January 19, 2015

Best answer: I've been in this exact situation. For me, I was successful with just changing stuff over time gradually. The websites and newsletters I checked regularly, I changed right away, but with things I couldn't think of off the top of my head (or in the first few pages of my inbox), I changed as I got to them. I forwarded all my new mail from the old account to the new one, which sucked to have to look at, but was better than the alternative (either not getting the emails, or having to log back into the old account), and when I would respond to emails sent to the old account I would use the new one. I also had some filters set up on the old account, so that not all mail went into my inbox, and that mail wouldn't be forwarded.

I didn't bother with transferring my old mail to my new account - I manually forwarded a few emails that I referenced frequently, and for everything else if I needed it I would just log back in to the old account. Just like the rest of my transition, I thought of it as a process. As much as I wished I could just wake up overnight and suddenly look completely different and have everyone refer to me with my new name and pronouns, that wasn't the way it worked, and there was a seemingly-endless-but-in-retrospect-not-actually-that-long period where things were awkward and uncomfortable and I had to deal with people misgendering me and avoiding the impulse to yell at them or punch them in the face or whatever other violent fantasies I had. So for a while, you just sort of need to be patient, and deal with stuff as it comes up. If some forum you haven't visited in five years and don't remember exists has the wrong name for you, it's not really going to affect your life, and if in the future you realize you do need to visit it again, you can always change it then.

I never really sat down and changed all my accounts, but by a few months into my transition, most things had been changed, and after less than a year, pretty much everything had. I can't even remember the last time I got an email addressed to the old account. Also, once I did get a legal name change, I found some useful resources for trans people about what to change and how to change it, but I also got a lot of surprisingly useful advice from lists for women who had just gotten married and changed their last name, which is a much more common scenario.
posted by CJF at 4:09 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for the suggestions, and specially to CJF for sharing your experience (and apparently signing up just for that).
I'm slowly going through it, by hand. Once I'm done I may leave a forward in place for a while. Search for unsubscribe doesn't do much, most newsletters don't use that word and they all word it differently.
It's slow, it sucks, but a bit at a time I'm getting it done. It's not the only thing I have coming that is slow and sometimes sucks, so I guess I need to get used to it.
posted by Promethea at 1:37 PM on January 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

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