Name nerds wanted! Exploring a new first name.
January 21, 2018 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I'm seeking suggestions for a new first and possibly middle name.

Hi!

One of the rare opportunities and benefits of being trans is this process of picking a new name, and I've thought about posting this question to MeFi for years now.

I'm posting this here because a lot of you have known me over the years, both for better and worse, and I'm curious what names people might suggest for me.

The name I've been working with in my head for the last 15+ years doesn't fit very well, and apparently it's been the ongoing punchline to a meme which I don't care to repeat here.

I have learned that the family name I was going to be given if I was AFAB was Helen, which I kind of like, and has similar etymology and roots as my given first name.

But I also don't like my current first name because of how common it is, and how often people shorten it to another name or the first syllable. Conversely, I generally don't like to have to explain how to spell a name or weird/alt spellings. My last name is annoying enough.

I do seem to like lighter or less imposing names with five letters or so, because of the length and weight of my last name. I have a hell of a time already filling out forms and paperwork.

I am also interested in unique and possibly androgynous or non-gendered names.

Last: Jen, Jenny and Jennifer are all off the list right out of the gate. Way too much history.

And feel free to not overthink this and just throw names at me and have fun. Everything about this is weird and pretty intensely personal that's ok. I'm exploring. I may not like any of them, I may have a hard time choosing. Someone might choose something that makes me cry. Who knows?

Thank you.
posted by loquacious to Writing & Language (93 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Julie? Light, five letters, one spelling.
posted by Flannery Culp at 2:42 PM on January 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


How about Helene? I think it's a beautiful name and close to Helen.
posted by Dolley at 2:42 PM on January 21, 2018 [11 favorites]


If you are interested, I'd be happy to look at your family history and look at some of your names on your tree. Maybe you'll see something there that strikes you. Memail if you are interested.
posted by beccaj at 2:48 PM on January 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Quinn
Lily
Lisa
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:49 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


My son would have been Mara if he had been a girl but it didn't seem right for my daughter (who is Sophia). I wish we had a Mara in the family, and MeFi is basically my second family!
posted by cooker girl at 2:50 PM on January 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Lynn (can be used for any gender and has echo of Helen in it)
posted by sciencegeek at 2:52 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'd say an advantage of Helen is that it's common enough that basically everybody knows how to spell it, but it hasn't been a common name for a long time so it's not like everybody knows a Helen in their age bracket. I have mixed feelings about my own first name but it meets the same criteria: common but not for my generation, and it's generally not been a burdensome one. I like the Helene spelling as well, or Helena, which I associate with a favorite movie.
posted by Sequence at 2:53 PM on January 21, 2018 [11 favorites]


Came in to say Helena as well!
posted by travertina at 2:59 PM on January 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


Anna
Emma
Eva
Carrie
posted by DarlingBri at 3:02 PM on January 21, 2018


Zoe ... means life
Frances ... means free
posted by Heloise9 at 3:08 PM on January 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


I love the name Helen—or, if you want something similar, what about Ellen or Ellyn?
posted by bookmammal at 3:09 PM on January 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Elena.
posted by gideonfrog at 3:12 PM on January 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Helen Rose or Helen Marie

Both are simple lightweight names, and Rose and Marie are very common middle names, but combined you have a more unique name.

This approach can work with other names as well.
posted by aniola at 3:20 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sophie. Means wisdom
Molly is nice- 5 letters too.
Kate is nice- Sam too, very neutral as is Max.
If I ever transition I’m just going to hack the “a” off the end of my name- seems easiest, but I like what you’re doing too. All the best to you- I hope this is as joyful as you wish it to be!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:20 PM on January 21, 2018


I love the name Anna, easy to pronounce and spell in most any language.
posted by newpotato at 3:34 PM on January 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Or how about Andie?
posted by newpotato at 3:35 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


My suggestion is always to look at name meanings that you like or mean something to you. Like maybe something like Valencia or Valerie (both the same root as "valor") because of the strength and courage it's taken to become your true self. Bridget, Andrea, Karlene, and Mildred all have meanings related to "strength." Or maybe you feel like transitioning and being your true self is a gift, and you'd like a gift-y name like Dorothea or Eudora (probably not Eudora!). Or maybe you want to celebrate the wisdom you've gained and you feel like a Sophia or an Athena.

(I named my kids for laughter, love, and light, so I am very big on this system!)

Another tool I commend to you is that Behind the Name has a "family tree" tool for names where you can see all the variations in different languages and all the diminutives and so on. If you find a name you kind-of like but it doesn't quite fit, sometimes the family tree can help you find other versions (a language that fits better with your last name or ethnic heritage, maybe) or nicknames that you like. Here's the tree for Helen, for example. Maybe you're an Elaine or a Helena or a Nell or even an Ilona!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:36 PM on January 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Reeve started off as a boy's name, but has morphed over to girls, and in general "reads" fairly neutral to most people these days. It is also only 5 letters and one syllable, and not too difficult to spell.
posted by gudrun at 3:40 PM on January 21, 2018


Lauren
Claire
Amy
Erin
Nora
Lena
Nicole
Dana
Reese
posted by to recite so charmingly at 3:40 PM on January 21, 2018


I like Helena! Also, I suggest looking at the Social Security Administration name site for names that were roughly as popular as the name you're changing around the time you were born. I have this idea that those names will be, like, "temporally appropriate" or some similar thing?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:43 PM on January 21, 2018 [12 favorites]


Random thoughts:

Lux
Bonnie
Laine
Blake

I love Helene.

As you probably know, people will shorten aaaannything so I'd pick a one-syllable name or prepare to be firm about correcting people ("I actually go by Jessica, not Jess, thanks!")

One route might be to pick a name with lots of nicknames that give you options, so frex Alexandra could be Alex, Ali, Lex, Lexi, Zan, Sasha, etc.

Laura Wattenberg (Baby Name Wizard) has fun tools on her site like NameFinder and NameVoyager.

Congratulations on your transition!
posted by lalex at 3:46 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


A colleague has two daughters, one named Rowan and one named Linden, both named for the trees. Interesting symbolism of rowan here.
posted by angiep at 3:56 PM on January 21, 2018 [7 favorites]


Women get more fun plant names than men. If I’d have had a baby female I’d have thought of Rose, Heather, Lily, Fern, Daisy, Violet etc.

They usually have a clear primary/canonical spelling, and are fairly well understood in speech and writing, at least in the Anglosphere.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:57 PM on January 21, 2018


Milla
Lori
Helene
Helena
Shelly
posted by Splunge at 3:57 PM on January 21, 2018


I was looking at variations of Helen, and one of them was Nora. Nora is the main character in Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House. In the end (spoiler), Nora famously takes control of her own destiny, which seems appropriate here. It’s also not common, but it’s easy to spell.
posted by FencingGal at 4:07 PM on January 21, 2018 [8 favorites]


Jules?

Seconding Zoë, but it can be mispronouned and even in 2018 can still get rendered as Zoë
posted by scruss at 4:09 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've been wanting to name something Lily recently, and Ada has been another name I've been keen on lately.
posted by TwoStride at 4:11 PM on January 21, 2018


Eleni is a Greek version of Helen (I think?) and is such a pretty name. No idea if it fits as we haven't met.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:15 PM on January 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Check your family tree and see if you have any distant relatives who have interesting names. This was on the radar when naming our children.
Also, we have middle names that keep turning up in the family history, with no obvious effort to use them. There might be a name that keeps turning up in genealogy charts.
posted by TrishaU at 4:21 PM on January 21, 2018


Pondering variations on Helen, it occurred to me than Ella and Elle are the Spanish and French words for "she."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:22 PM on January 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Congrats! Mara/Mira/Mayra, Lyra, Jill(ian), Laurel, Nora, Eva, Ida, Ashley (though this is very different in the UK, where it's almost exclusively a male name), Gemma, Sasha, Kai, Sage, and Vera are a few that come to mind.
posted by stillmoving at 4:23 PM on January 21, 2018


Question: do you want something that would fit in approximately with your birth cohort? Just that you mention Jen, which was super popular when I was born, in mid-70s.

Or do you not really care?

Anyway,

Sarah/Sara
Jayne/Jane
Marie
Maria
Julie/Julia
Victoria/Tori/Vicky
Karen
Nicole
Eleanor/Ellie
Kristin
Heather
Sonya/Sonia/Sonja
Andrea
Angela
posted by gaspode at 4:29 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Aster
Lupin
Clara
Thea
posted by bighappyhairydog at 4:41 PM on January 21, 2018


I also love Helen(a) and variants thereof like Ellen, Eleni, Elaine, Eleanor, Lena, and Nora.

Some other two-syllable names that have a similar classic and feminine vibe and fairly simple spelling: Irene, Chloe, Celia, Delia, Lydia, Grace, Edith, Hazel, Vera, Laura, Louise, Althea, Lucy.

More androgynous options: Arden, Riley, Eden, Harper, Alex, Jude.
posted by karayel at 4:43 PM on January 21, 2018


I also like Anna for you. It’s short, clear, and somehow powerful. I could see you with it.

Helen suits you as well.
posted by Vaike at 4:45 PM on January 21, 2018


My son would have been Mara if he had been a girl but it didn't seem right for my daughter (who is Sophia).

I'm a Mara and you're going to spend your entire life with:
"Maria?"
"No, Mara."
"Moira?"
"No, Mara."
"Patricia?"
"........."

That said, we're rare, so it almost feels like a Secret Club when you find another one. (Also bear in mind that the meaning of the name is "bitter" - I find that amusing but YMMV.)
posted by ninazer0 at 4:50 PM on January 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think Alana is a pretty name, easy to say, simple to spell. Alana Jane? Alana Noelle?
posted by Night_owl at 4:54 PM on January 21, 2018


Are there books/ authors/ heroes in your life?
Some heroes are Joan or Jean, Rosa, Emmeline, Dolores, Harriet, Jane, Lili (Liliuokalani), Michelle, Hillary, Sally.
posted by theora55 at 4:55 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'd recommend running your top choices through the Baby Name Voyager, which will make a graph of name popularity in the US over time. People who are renaming themselves tend to be drawn to the same names as new parents, which is fun if you do that intentionally but could be awkward if you didn't.
posted by yarntheory at 4:59 PM on January 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


Helen is a strong, classy, classic name. It had wild popularity from 1900 - 1930, but, surprisingly, hasn't had the swing round in popularity that lots of names from that era have. It's an unusual name while being easy to hear, spell, and understand. Plus, when it comes back in vogue, you'll get to meet so many adorable babies with your name!
posted by missmary6 at 5:04 PM on January 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Woo! Congrats!! I think Helen is great! And I know you said you didn't want hard-to-spell variations, but the Gaelic version of Helen is Eilidh (pronounced ay-lee, basically) and I always thought that was neat. How about Laurel? Glenn? Gwen? Darcy? Deirdre? (means talkative :) )
posted by The otter lady at 5:12 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love Kate on its own, not as a nickname for Katherine. It’s simple and elegant. Same goes for Ann or Anne, and Jane. I’m also partial to Lenore, which I think is poetic and beautiful, but you might get a lot of misspellings like Leonore.
posted by holborne at 5:32 PM on January 21, 2018


Also, Claire sentences you to a lifetime of Clare/Clair/Claire and even Clara.
posted by FencingGal at 5:42 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


My wife and I were discussing what we'd choose as an other-gender name if we had reason to do so, and I settled on Winter. Just throwing that out there.
posted by lore at 6:15 PM on January 21, 2018


Since you’re open to other possibilities, a lot of place names have become female names, and many sound gender neutral (Madison, Jackson, Dakota). I found a list, but I can’t link to it, so you can google baby place names for examples. Are there any geographic locations that are important to you?

Some male names have become more commonly female over time (Leslie, Ashley, Carroll), so a name that seems gender neutral now may not stay that way. .
posted by FencingGal at 6:20 PM on January 21, 2018


I really like the name Robin. It's one of few names that I don't have a "default" gender for.

(I think Helena gets you pronunciation headaches, at least in the US.)
posted by hoyland at 6:22 PM on January 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


I don't have a specific name suggestion but I agree with the advice to look for something around the time you were born. There seem to be a lot of trans people in their 20s and 30s with the same names as toddlers. May or may not matter to you, but it can be a tell that someone is trans.
posted by AFABulous at 6:23 PM on January 21, 2018 [5 favorites]


I like Ellen - not so common as Jenny etc, but shouldn't require spelling explanations either.

I also like Jane. To me it's a no-nonsense but decidedly feminine name, and conjures up the librarian I might have been with different life choices - a librarian with a solid savings account who owns her home and knits and knows how to change her oil and has an astonishing but discreet love life.
posted by bunderful at 6:42 PM on January 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


I strongly disagree with the "pick something that was popular when you were born" advice, particularly with the context you've given us. If you were born in the US, Helen was almost certainly not popular when you were born, so if "a name my parents' might have chosen" is a plus for you, popularity is irrelevant.

I think sometimes people intend it as a proxy for "names your parents might have chosen", but that assumes everyone's parents have not only the same cultural background, but the same preferences in names. All that ends up happening is a reinforcement of the biases around what makes a "normal" name.

Cis people don't go around wondering if people are trans and they certainly don't do so based on their name.
posted by hoyland at 6:47 PM on January 21, 2018 [2 favorites]


Other forms of Helen, perhaps?

Elaine
Elaina
Elena

Harper
Piper
Nancy
Tracy
posted by carmicha at 7:02 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Lindy
can be shortened to Lin, which isn't terrible, and
if you like to dance, Lindy fits right in
I hope you love whichever name you choose
posted by MovableBookLady at 7:07 PM on January 21, 2018


I'm gonna disagree with the "avoid names that are popular for babies now" crowd. Lotsa people will be familiar with these names and know how to spell them, but you won't be mixed up with anyone else because of the age difference. I think it'll only be a "tell" to other folks in the trans community, and you may not mind clueing them in anyway. Maybe you'll seem hip and modern forever!

Ella
Sophie
Blake
Gray
Riley
Rowan
Olive
Hazel

For a middle name, make it fun! It's too late to worry that you're tempting fate:

Danger
Love
Words
Wordsworth
Troy
Jay

And of course Helen is lovely too!
posted by equipoise at 7:13 PM on January 21, 2018


Another vote for Helen/Helene/Helena! It was my grandmother's name and I always get a kick out of meeting people who have it now. Everyone I've met seems to wear it very well -- it's classic, beautiful, elegant, and strong.

Others:
Julie/Julia/Jules
Tess/Tessa
Nora
Millie
Iris
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 7:49 PM on January 21, 2018


Jewel
posted by Jacen at 8:03 PM on January 21, 2018


Elise
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:29 PM on January 21, 2018 [3 favorites]


Kelly.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:31 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I’m admittedly biased in favor of Helen. It reminds me of the old Kids in the Hall sketch “Thirty Helens Agree,” the magic of which was that being named Helen and agreeing on some random opinion where the only things the thirty of them had in common. Anyone of any age or demographic could be “a Helen,” though it’s not the ubiquitous choice it once was — it’s never dropped completely off the map the way some of its contemporaries did. Helena is slightly more flowery; Elena is dainty but not fragile. How do the syllables play with your last name?

Helens and Helen-isotopes aside, I’m adding my voice to the chorus suggesting you consider your birth cohort and avoid anything that sounds radically younger or is trendy right now. Accent and subculture matter as well.

Dawn might as well be “Don” in the Western USA and Erin will get sick of being “Aaron” there; Colleen might be pronounced differently in Calgary than in Cork; Laura might be less generation-bound than Lauren; Crystal has a class-background association more limited than other minerals, like Amber.

Madison or Nevaeh will sound, shall we say, “youth-aspirational” if you’re actually old enough to remember 9/11. Gail or Linda might face age stereotypes in the hiring process these days. (Heather and Tiffany will get their turn soon enough.)

A note on middles: Lynn, Marie, and Ann got far more play as middle names in the last few generations than as firsts. So if there’s a name you like that sounds too “old” to be your given name, the middle can be a good parking spot for that.

Finally, you can’t beat Elizabeth or Katherine for nickname adaptability.
posted by armeowda at 9:24 PM on January 21, 2018 [4 favorites]


Eleanor/Elena are great choices but can speak from experience that they will be shortened to Ellie! Helena, Helena, and Ella don't seem to get shortened. Huge congratulations on your transition!
posted by ellieBOA at 10:08 PM on January 21, 2018


Joy is really hard to shorten (I know, because I am one and in Australia, where everything gets shortened) but occasionally I go by Jo/Joey which is gender-flexible. Good luck!
posted by b33j at 10:54 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


Inanna/Ishtar, who (amongst other things) descends to and returns from the underworld, reborn. There are also connections with Astarte and Aphrodite; also Isis - but I suspect these options are either hard to pronounce/spell correctly or have an unfortunate coincidence with a terrorist group. Anna could be an option instead of Inanna if you like it. Persephone has an underworld descent/return and Amaterasu is similar (though with a cave rather than the underworld) but I suspect both those names are too long and/or difficult.

Cerridwen (alt Ceridwen) is the Welsh goddess of inspiration, rebirth and transformation. Though possibly that is also too long and/or hard to pronounce.

Zoe (life) may seem tempting, but consider it is at the end of the alphabet. This may or may not matter to you but when things go in alphabetical order by name, you will come last. Also people mispronounce it, ask what it is short for (it isn't) and spell it wrong (Zoey, Zowie, Zooey). And there is a certain orange muppet. There is also a rather over-the-top and punny poem by Byron, Maid of Athens (the "punch line" could mean either "my life, I love you" or "Zoe I love you" though that Wikipedia article reveals that the maid in question was a 12 year old girl named Teresa that Byron met when he was 22 ew ew ew now I am seriously grossed out).

Consider alternatives with the same meaning: Vita, Eve, Eva, Ava, Hava, Evita.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:31 PM on January 21, 2018 [1 favorite]


I really like Harper. It's not super close to Helen but it's kind of a neat name.

And like ninazer0, I will share reasons not to choose my name (even though it doesn't really meet your criteria so it may not be in the running...this is just extra reason to disqualify it!). It's Sabrina -- or, according to many random people over the past decades, it's Sarah, Stephanie, Samantha, any other S-name, basically. In the mispronunciation round, we get Sobrinna, Rita, Subrena, or (especially in the South) Supreena. And finally, lots of people like to spontaneously shorten it to Bree. It's apparently a difficult name for many.
posted by sldownard at 12:10 AM on January 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


Woah, you guys! Thank you so much love and support. I'm honestly a little overwhelmed, so don't be surprised if I'm a little quieter than usual.

There's a ton of good advice here and a lot of names and things I never would have considered.
posted by loquacious at 1:16 AM on January 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Charis
posted by h00py at 5:14 AM on January 22, 2018


Love Helene or Helena.

I have a Sophia and an Amelia. We call them Sophie and Mia unless they're in trouble.
posted by dancinglamb at 5:53 AM on January 22, 2018


Mara is also Garlic for "sea!"
posted by cooker girl at 7:34 AM on January 22, 2018


Helen Reigna (raina)

(swear I'm not a bad Jen)
posted by WeekendJen at 8:54 AM on January 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Just a few favorites:

Eloise
Sage
Devin
posted by Fallbala at 9:27 AM on January 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


Drew. I friend of mine named her first child Drew and that was going to be regardless of baby's gender.

Another friend named their child Dorothy Helen, after two beloved grandmothers. Helen has such great history as a name!

Camille is another person I know who oftentimes goes by "Cam".

I love the suggestion of Joy above.

One of my favorite people is named "Faye" - just the difficulty of with or without an 'e' when spelling it.

Marta - means "Lady"

A middle name some friends chose for their child: "Sunshine".
posted by jillithd at 9:49 AM on January 22, 2018


My middle name is Francis, not Frances, though I'm AFAB; I really like it, because I turned out to be genderqueer (surprise, mom and dad), and it's different, and with my fem first name, I don't (seemingly) get misgendered (I use she/them, because lazy). Helen Francis?
posted by joycehealy at 12:22 PM on January 22, 2018


We have a Tessa in our family, and I think it has a lot of positives: it’s not overly common, but everyone can spell it; it fits in well with the currently popular Ava, Emma, Sophia, Olivia, etc., but it isn’t strongly associated with any particular generation. Just a solid name all around.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:36 PM on January 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'll throw Nina out there for basically the same reasons listed for Tessa.
posted by lalex at 1:59 PM on January 22, 2018


Louise, a beautiful name with a gender-neutral diminutive: Lou.
posted by carmicha at 2:08 PM on January 22, 2018


I love the idea of picking a middle name that lets you say, "_____ is my middle name." (I have a friend who changed her middle name to Somebody, because she'd been Cindy Somebody at conventions for years.) You could use a virtue that's common for names, like Joy or Grace or Charity, or have fun with something like Danger or Trouble.

I also like Helen; I have fond memories of the "Thirty Helens Agree" sketches.

For less common names short names that shouldn't be a problem with spelling or pronunciation* there are:
Anika
Sana
Vanya
Hazel
Dagny
Raine
Vera

* As mentioned above with "Mara," there is no name so simple that someone will not say, "Is that spelled with a Y?" or "You mean Sarah?"**
**Not that there's anything wrong with Sarah, if it hasn't been mentioned.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:17 PM on January 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm starting to appreciate Helen. There's also a couple of names people have suggested that I really like, like Kate, for example, but they're too close to immediate family or close friend names.

So, this is probably going to be at least a year long thing, and I can already see myself coming back to this thread over and over again to ponder things over. So, if you're finding this thread, say, several months from now I'd still like to hear what you have to say.

And I also want to say to everyone that if I'm not engaging as much as you'd like, I'm honestly a little overwhelmed and shy and that's all find and good.

As much as a thread can be a thing this is already one of my favorite things, ever. It just feels really shiny and new and I'm getting this feeling similar to when I see some really nice art glass or stained glass or something, or a favorite stone or pebble, if that makes any sense.

It's really comforting. I wasn't expecting this much support and attention.
posted by loquacious at 3:37 PM on January 22, 2018 [7 favorites]


(swear I'm not a bad Jen)

Oh, no. It's not even like that. I actually really like the name.

So, here's the story, and it's some straight up Seinfeld shit, no chaser.

I liked the name for a long time, and it's something I considered when I was younger due to the similarity with my own given name. I also liked the flexibility of the diminutive versions and nicknames.

Further, when I was a kid I also had a major (and in hindsight, totally dumb and inadvisable crush, no really not my type at all and vice versa) on someone named Jennifer. I also had a maaaaajor crush on my rockabilly-punk English teacher with the same name.

Anyway. Skip forward to a young adult and I ended up dating someone named Jennifer seriously enough we were talking about getting married and having kids. This lasted about two years or so. It ended badly with ongoing infidelity and trust issues on her part, jealousy issues on mine, but this still has nothing to do with this story.

So, next my next dating and relationship was also with someone named Jennifer. It was a brief and really intense fling.

Next serious relationship and cohabitation? Her name was also Jennifer. At this point I'm actually starting to get a little confused about the name, the chance of coincidences and starting to develop a really concrete idea that the universe had a sick sense of humor and it might be mocking me.

No, wait, I'm not done yet. There was almost a fourth person named Jennifer in my life. We hung out and went on a couple of casual dates. When we first met and were kind of flirting at a local coffee shop and hanging out with multiple friends, when we finally introduced ourselves I'm just sitting there thinking "Please, please any name but Jennifer." at this point and, of course her name is Jennifer.

None of this was ever intentional on my part and in every case we were talking and obviously attracted to each other before we knew each other's names.

Keep in mind this is also the entirety of my dating, relationship and love life over a span of something like 8 years. There weren't any dates or flings with anyone with any other name during that entire time.

So, it's not bad at all. I actually really like the name. There's just way too much personal history for it to ever be my name alone, and it would just be too weird. Even for me.
posted by loquacious at 4:18 PM on January 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


There's a reason this was one of the earliest sites on the web. Maybe you can rewrite that Kids in the Hall bit: "these are the Jens I know, I know..."
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:41 PM on January 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


* Ada (as in Ada Lovelace, the original programmer!)
* Deidre
* Maud
* Caro -- i've encountered it as a shortening of Caroline, but Caro can be a whole name
* Mae. I would've recommened "Rae," but for the homonym spelled "Ray"
* Lana is good, but it's a little tied to the singer and will be for the forseeable future
* Edna is due for a come-back! If it doesn't take off, might hurt you on resumes in the future.
* Alyse, a nice variation on Elise, but confusable with it also
* Yara
* Chloe
* Lisa
* Casey
* Shelby
* Clara
* Bree
posted by wires at 5:07 PM on January 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I know sisters named Maren and Talia, and I absolutely love both those names. Some other favorites: Alice or Elise, Tessa, Robin, Hannah, Julia. (I love the nicknames "Jules.")
posted by leftover_scrabble_rack at 5:17 PM on January 22, 2018


Heather or Erica. Mean the same thing. Easy to spell, pretty hard to shorten.
posted by kjs4 at 6:28 PM on January 22, 2018


I'm really tempted by Ada (specifically Lovelace) as a middle name. Grace Hopper, too, but I fear "Grace" as a name would inevitably lead to "as in not very" because I'm a clutz.
posted by loquacious at 7:48 PM on January 22, 2018 [3 favorites]


Late entry: Clara.

While Clara Ada Lastname seems heavy on the As, Clara Hopper Lastname is very nice; if you don't mind showy, Clara Lovelace Lastname is a good one, too.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:52 AM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Related: Mike Doughty's 27 Jennifers
posted by jillithd at 7:07 AM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Late entry:

There are no late entries. This thread will be open all year. I'm going to take my sweet time thinking about this.

And I just got back from the doc and pharmacist and *makes tea-kettle noises*.
posted by loquacious at 12:48 PM on January 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


OK, this has been weighing on my mind, and I would feel terrible if I didn't set it right! I don't think you have to avoid all newly-popular names lest people guess you are trans or choose a name "for" your parents or to make yourself sound more normal. You should choose a name that you love that you want people to call you. For me, those are names I've heard roughly as often as my own, because I'm an anxious irritable conservative at heart. For many people (probably most people!) the scope is probably wider and that all says more about me than it does anyone else.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:47 PM on January 23, 2018


i like Stella. you are the star of your voyage (also it is the name of my son's ski instructor and she is lovely)
posted by biggreenplant at 5:00 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


+1 for Stella!
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 11:24 AM on January 26, 2018


Linda
Hollis
Bailey
Shelly
Dicey
Madchen
Ronda
Sylvia
posted by carmicha at 5:08 PM on January 26, 2018


Aubrey
posted by carmicha at 8:19 AM on January 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I recently ran into the name Ita. Conventional googling says it's an Irish word for 'thirst' but I speak Hebrew, and in Hebrew it means "with her" (heb spelling: איתה). I think it's a brilliant, beautiful, meaningful name that is unfamiliar yet easy to pronounce and spell.
posted by alon at 5:46 AM on February 1, 2018


Count me in for an offer to research your family tree if you'd like something historical and with a family connection. But I'm also going to suggest that you go for something within OR slightly prior to to your birth cohort because this statement does not fit with my experience...

Cis people don't go around wondering if people are trans and they certainly don't do so based on their name.

Cis people might not, but about 15 years ago when I was spending a lot of time in forums for trans men, the most popular names were of the -den variety. Someone joked that you could tell a trans man because his name was Jayden, Braeden, Aiden, or Okay-den. And not long after that the most popular names for baby boys were of the -den variety. So when I meet a Brayden over the age of 30 I immediately start to wonder. Haven't noticed a similar effect with trans women though.

That said, I like Helen or Helena. Ellen immediately makes me think of you know who, which isn't bad, but...doesn't seem to suit. A friend of mine chose Alice and I love that for her. Lately I've been digging the name Karen, but I think that's because I keep finding millions of them in my Norwegian family tree, most of whom went as Kari. Lots of Martas and Marens and Marits and Berits as well (and Borghildas, who all went as Brønla - wouldn't you?).

Claire?
Clara?
Delia?
Eleanor!
Elise (not Elsie)?
Evelyn?
Jane?
Julia!
Karen?
Lauren!
Lucy?
Lydia?
Rachel!
Sarah?
Vivien?
Zelda?

(Okay that's me going through all 7,000 names in my family tree and coming up with bupkiss. Unless you'd like a nice Puritan name like Experience or Patience or Toogood.)

(I have strong name opinions because I hate my name so dang much. And one of the reasons I've never changed it is because I haven't found anything better and the name I hate so much is actually gender neutral which is kinda handy when you're GF/NB. Hilariously, if my parents had produced a sister for me, her name would have been Theodora Daisy. And I love that name.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:20 PM on February 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


This question is beautiful. I am a newbie here but this kind of question makes me feel like it was a good choice to join.

I also like it because my partner and I had already decided what our daughter’s name would be years before we knew we would have a kid together. I love her name (it’s come up a few times here!) but it meant that during the name brainstorming phase of pregnancy I never really got to luxuriate in any of the other girl names I love — many of which have also come up here: Alice, Robin (though it was on our boy list), Clara, Jane.

Hit post too soon. I’ll keep thinking.
posted by eirias at 4:20 AM on May 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Kira is one I don’t think I saw here. Might get mistaken for Kara or Kieran, though (which I also like, though I haven’t met a female Kieran).

Violet, Olive, Iris, Rose, Ruby - I kinda like nature names.

Nora, Wendy, Gwen, Zoe, Rachel. Laurel, Leora, Laura.

I also think Helen is fabulous. A very graceful name.
posted by eirias at 4:30 AM on May 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


*bump*

Thanks to everyone for the kind words and suggestions. I still haven't made any decisions yet and may not for some time. I get a lot of positive responses from Helen, but I'm also taking things day by day and see where I end up.

But yes, I'm still watching this thread and it is still alive. I can't believe it's been six months!
posted by loquacious at 11:07 AM on May 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


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