Give me back my name
May 31, 2020 1:27 AM   Subscribe

I'll be 30 next year and it feels like it might be the right milestone to use to make the leap and change my first name. I've considered this for a while and I think it's something that would be great for my life. First step: do Internet Strangers think my chosen new name suits me?

My given/birth/current name is three syllables, markedly feminine, and I dislike it. I dislike the actual sounds of the syllables and find them ugly, and actually difficult for me to pronounce. I stumble over introducing myself. I have ugly memories of it being used as a tool for bullying when I was a kid (even though there's nothing actually weird or wrong about it). There are English words that sound a bit like it that I don't like the associations of. I dislike the social/cultural associations that go along with it- the kind of person that people would assume would have a name like this: very British, very girly, quite posh/upper class; not how I see myself. I dislike that it's risen in popularity in recent years so it now seems like a little girl's name. There aren't any abbreviations or nicknames that go with it that I like, and the full name is so long and cumbersome. I don't enjoy hearing it; when people call my name I wince.

The name I have chosen is Ray. I like that it's not super feminine, and, while it is usually a man's name, it's not particularly masculine either. I like the simplicity of a single syllable. I prefer that it starts with a consonant rather than a vowel, which would make it easier to say for me. I can imagine introducing myself with ease and pleasure: "Hi, I'm Ray". It sounds good, positive, simple and strong. I like that it corresponds to the word meaning "beam of light". I like that there are interesting people with this name like Ray Charles, Ray Davies, and Ray Bradbury. I like that it's not a trendy or popular name. I like the way it sounds with my two-syllable surname. I like that if someone had a problem with a woman having a man's name they could mentally parse it as "Rae" short for Rachel. I like the self-definition of choosing my name and not just going along with my given name for the sake of not hurting my parents' feelings. I like Ray!

So, internet strangers: could you take a look at these recent photos of me and tell me, all this being said, if the person in the photos looks like they could be a Ray to you? Thanks!
posted by Balthamos to Grab Bag (64 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Absolutely! I think it suits you very well.
posted by lollusc at 1:32 AM on May 31 [22 favorites]


Sure. It looks like you. There are so many great associations with this name too. I think of ray of light, ray of sunshine, ray of hope, sting ray, and all the cool people named Ray, many of whom you've mentioned. Go for it.
posted by bearwife at 1:41 AM on May 31 [6 favorites]


yea, suits you well
posted by WeekendJen at 1:43 AM on May 31


Yes! So well it made me smile.
posted by eirias at 1:57 AM on May 31 [9 favorites]


Absolutely. The name is beautiful and matches you well. Congratulations, Ray!
posted by mezzanayne at 2:14 AM on May 31


Yes Ray, you do look fine with that name! I can't tell you how much happy feels I've had ever since I ditched my parental name. Most people forget the old name pretty quickly and even my most stubborn holdouts gave up and called me by my new name. I think you will love hearing your name from now on. I heartily endorse changing you name legally so you can move on without reminders of the past.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:18 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


Ray, you look and sound lovely! Another reference for your list, Ray Eames. All the best.
posted by teststrip at 2:24 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


Oh, you definitely look like a no-nonsense Ray :) It also reminds me of the Japanese similarly-pronounced Rei, which is usually written in syllables (hiragana or katakana), but a favourite actress of mine uses the kanji for Light/Ray in her stage name.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 2:48 AM on May 31 [8 favorites]


Hi Ray!
I’m also suggesting Rey for your consideration.
posted by calgirl at 2:59 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


Definitely suits you. For what it's worth, the first thing I'd think of is Rey from Star Wars (and she's a kick-ass character so that's a good thing).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:37 AM on May 31 [11 favorites]


Hey there! I know a Ray (Rei) in real life and you look like a Ray to me.
posted by sacchan at 3:53 AM on May 31


Not even going to look at the photos. Your name, which you chose, tells people things about you that your appearance does not.

I will tell you this too: I tried imagining you tall, dark, petite, fair, broad, angular, curvy, red-headed, strong, lithe, voluptuous, serious, symmetrical, asymmetrical, smiling, exuberant, and focused. The name fit all versions.
posted by amtho at 4:13 AM on May 31 [8 favorites]


Oh yes. Perfect name for you! Enjoy it!
posted by 6thsense at 4:13 AM on May 31


I can imagine introducing myself with ease and pleasure: "Hi, I'm Ray".

We don’t even need to look at the (lovely) pictures; this is your answer. Hi, Ray!
posted by LadyInWaiting at 4:37 AM on May 31 [16 favorites]


The first person I thought of was the amazingly talented Ray Eames (I'm not sure how she ended up with the name Ray when she was born in 1912). I know two other women named Rei (both Japanese). It's a great name.
posted by pinochiette at 5:20 AM on May 31 [10 favorites]


I just read the Ray Eames story I linked to and learned that it was actually a childhood nickname that she kept her whole life. Anyway, she's someone I really admire.
posted by pinochiette at 5:22 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Yep, fits
posted by Jacen at 5:23 AM on May 31


Yes, it's a great name for you. (And, OMG, the dog's face!!)
posted by essexjan at 5:36 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


It's perfect.
posted by Dolley at 5:37 AM on May 31


I think it's great for you! A family member of mine (right around your age) is named Rae, so that and its homophones have always stood out to me, and I'd say it's not so uncommon that I'd expect people to actually challenge you on it or anything, regardless of how they read your gender. (Some will however manage to mishear it regardless of how clearly you enunciate it. Be prepared with "like-ray-of-sun" (or whatever you're comfortable with), because I swear some people act like they only know 20 names and everyone they meet gets one of them.) Baby Name Wizard collaborates this in that it says none of them except Rey for boys ("boys") have been used much in a long time in the US, but that several used to be reasonably popular (top-1000), which is a pretty good sweet spot for "unique but not unfamiliar." And even Rey looks like it's actually doing okay as a not-trendy choice for a brand-new baby, which was the concern that I wanted to check on for you (insofar as you even care about potentially being perceived as trendy and/or being mentally associated with much younger people, of course). And anyway, the important thing is that you like it and feel good about it!
posted by teremala at 5:40 AM on May 31


Absolutely wonderful name, I'm so happy for you. Two things for consideration: people might make the star-wars association, and in lefty spaces people might guess you're trans.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:41 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


Sounds to me like you are already Ray!
Now you just need to let others know.
Go for it!
posted by bookmammal at 6:10 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Yup, that's a Ray.
posted by stray at 6:12 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Yes! Go for it. One thing to be prepared for that you no doubt are aware of, but you will find a number of people who have only seen your name written down/in emails, will assume you're a guy and have a bit of a cognitive wriggle to do when they realise their mistake. But it's such a cool name I think you should go for it.

This announcement brought to you by a colleague whose name is Dawn, but who lives in Scotland, where Dawn is indistinguishable when read aloud from Don, so people who have only heard her name, and call the office asking for Don [her second name], have a similar cognitive wriggle to do when they realise their error...!
posted by penguin pie at 6:13 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


I like it :)
posted by Neekee at 6:23 AM on May 31


Yes, it works really well, I like it a lot.
posted by AuroraSky at 6:43 AM on May 31


You work as a Ray!
posted by terretu at 6:46 AM on May 31


Hello! I am a nonbinary Rae who chose my name for very similar reasons to yours. Ray is a terrific name for you and I wish you happiness from it.
posted by daisyk at 6:51 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


1. I love it and it suits you

2. You are very smart to be doing this now. I am a decade and a half older than you and have always hated my name. I wish now that I'd done whatever it took to change it years ago (although in my case there were significant barriers so I shouldn't be too hard on myself)

3. The name may cause folks to think you're trans, if that matters.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:00 AM on May 31


Cheers and congratulations!

(Speaking as someone who doesn't know anything, the one thing I'd suggest briefly considering is how unique the new name is and whether that's good or bad for you going forward. My spouse operated under a chosen name for twenty years, but has switched back to her birth name in her professional interactions, 'cause it's far less common and doesn't lead to search results that some might find unsavory. No reason to not do both (or add a third later), but postal workers are often confused.)
posted by eotvos at 7:05 AM on May 31


I think you have a match. Enjoy your name. This Internet Stranger approves. Not that that matters in the slightest. Go for it!
posted by Gotanda at 7:06 AM on May 31


I think it's a great choice - that name just packs a punch.

Will add my daughter chose to change her name as an adult and was worried about how we would react, particularly since she was named for a badass ancestor. I told her we didn't know YOU when we chose the name. There's something very affirming about choosing one's name to match one's adult self. So this internet stranger and mom of someone else who chose a name says go for it and be happy to name yourself what matches your self-concept!
posted by leslies at 7:17 AM on May 31 [7 favorites]


I like it and it suits you and if being able to use a name that's "you" lights up your face when you introduce yourself then I bet it will be awesome. Go Ray!
posted by cabingirl at 7:21 AM on May 31


Hi Ray!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:21 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


One more vote for your choice (plus the ideas of all the alternate spellings, in case you want to mix it up). I think it suits you very well.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:29 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Ray is the good daughter's name in Mildred Pierce, short for Moire, which they were pronouncing wrong. It's a good name.
posted by phunniemee at 7:39 AM on May 31


Joining the chorus to say - go for it! (I also know a Rae, christened Harriet, but only going by Rae for all the time I've known her.)
posted by gudrun at 7:39 AM on May 31


Yes, it works for you, and this post makes me very happy.
posted by SLC Mom at 7:42 AM on May 31


I will sound a cautionary note. I am an androgynous woman. My original first name is commonly thought to be masculine. I used a feminine spelling, but it was seldom recognized as such. Soooo many people assumed me to be a guy, and I got sooooo tired of it. So I now use my middle name as my first name, and it is feminine.
posted by NotLost at 8:09 AM on May 31


You have a warm and grounded appearance that the name "Ray" suits very well.

Cheers!
posted by virago at 8:09 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


As soon as I turned 18, about a billion years ago, I changed my first name from something I hated - for many of the same reasons you don't like yours - to something that felt good and right to me. I say, go for it.

For me, every time I say or hear my "new" first name, it's a reminder that I am the person I made myself out of the wreckage of the family I was born into -- not the person they thought I was or wanted me to be. It has been an entirely positive thing for me and I bet it will be for you, too.

And it totally does suit you. Great choice.
posted by invincible summer at 8:14 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Means you started out at one point, but then went on towards infinity. Sounds good.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:59 AM on May 31 [7 favorites]


Great name, great photos, great dog. I vote 100% yes, this name fits you.
posted by bilabial at 9:10 AM on May 31


Nice to meet you Ray.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 9:42 AM on May 31


Yes, I think it suits you perfectly. You look like someone I would like to hang out with, and you look like a Ray. I like the alternate spellings that have been suggested, too.

Also I want your dog. <3
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:44 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


That is a ray of sunshine smile if I ever saw one! Go for it. People who see it written before they meet you may have a moment of cognitive dissonance, but that seems like a minor annoyance for a choice that makes you so happy. (Plus you can bond with all the Gene/Jean, Dawn/Don, Erin/Aaron, Kelly, Dana, Chris, etc named people you meet)
posted by Flannery Culp at 10:06 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


Hi, Ray!
I have a Rae in my family and I think it's good no matter how you spell it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:29 AM on May 31


I love the name and as soon as I clicked on the photos I thought it suited you perfectly! So exciting, congratulations.
posted by sillysally at 10:51 AM on May 31


Hi Ray! Love it.
posted by nkknkk at 11:23 AM on May 31


Thank you all for these overwhelmingly supportive and positive responses! I've marked as best the ones that made me smile particularly hugely, but they all made me smile!

I think I'm going to take the plunge and tell an old friend of my new name today. Then I can work through my closest friends, start telling strangers, and get to the level of telling my family and work and making it legal by my 30th so I can enter that new era as I mean to go on.

Thanks so much again, sincerely,
Ray!
posted by Balthamos at 11:30 AM on May 31 [29 favorites]


Just another voice of support. I once knew a Ray who I loved! A brilliant and radiant soul. I can see you beam that same energy. Congratulations, Ray!
posted by stillmoving at 11:45 AM on May 31


Yes yes yes! You are a radiant being with a phenomenal smile so Ray/Rae/Rey suits you very well. Congratulations on finding the right name for you!!
posted by Kitchen Witch at 12:46 PM on May 31


I literally thought "ohmygosh yes!"
posted by too bad you're not me at 1:08 PM on May 31


100% yes!!! Also, adorable dog!!!
posted by mccxxiii at 2:17 PM on May 31


totally suits you, go for it! another reference (her name is spelt differently, but pronounced the same as yours) is Rhea Seehorn, an absolutely fantastic actor.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:19 PM on May 31


It's a good name, it suits you.

I think very few people would automatically assume that either Rae or Ray had to be short for Rachel or Raymond (I mean, you may have to spell it for people more than you'd like, but guessing the spelling wrong is for this particular name pretty likely to be a neutral mistake. there's still a spelling gender divide but less of one than with Aaron/Erin, say.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 2:28 PM on May 31


Hoo Ray!!!
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:51 PM on May 31 [1 favorite]


yes, love it!
posted by Ahmad Khani at 4:59 PM on May 31


Congratulations on your new name! I think it suits you well!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:59 PM on May 31


Nice to meet you, Ray! Congratulations on your new name, I can tell you’ll keep bringing light to your surroundings.
posted by assenav at 8:47 PM on May 31


Looking happy Ray, glad to see it.
posted by nenequesadilla at 10:00 PM on May 31


Ray is a good name. You will find yourself spelling it a lot, and tolerating (or not) misspellings. I predict it will be worth it.
posted by plonkee at 9:11 AM on June 1


Hi Ray. Very nice to meet you.
posted by kokaku at 7:25 PM on June 1


Seeing your smile totally made my day! I’m so excited for you and your new name.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:38 AM on June 3


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