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Please Help My Friends Use My New Name!

Hi! I'm a transgender boy and have started going by the name Kellin. My friends have said they support me, but they keep on referring to me by my old name. I don't know how to correct them without seeming rude. How can I be more assertive with my name?

–Kellin, Please!

Sometimes, a change like this just takes a lot of gentle, but persistent reminders, as when a teenager or adult wants to shed a childhood nickname. It’s not rude to say "It's Kellin now, thanks!" when friends forget. Just keep your tone cheerful and polite.

If Kellin is quite different from your birth name, it may be harder for your friends to shift over to it in their minds. When new names echo the sound of previous names (say, Adam becomes Addy, or Emily becomes Emmett), they seem to be adopted more quickly and smoothly. So if you're asking friends to make a pretty big leap, just know that you may have to hold their hands for a while during the process.

Instead of demanding or complaining (which tend to be ineffective), you might try asking your friends why they find it hard to use your new name. Is it hard to remember for some reason? Do they think it doesn't fit you? Even if the answers to these questions aren't very helpful or revealing, this can be a non-confrontational way to help them focus on using your new name. It will make them more aware that they've been failing to do so, without accusations. The discussion can even reinforce for you, as well as your friends, why you've chosen the name and want to stick up for it. Best of luck, Kellin!


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April 13, 2017 3:22 PM
By nedibes (not verified)

One other thing that might help: If you have one or two friends who you can talk to easily about this, ask them to make a point of using your (correct) name a lot for a few weeks.

Like, more than they would ever normally use it: "Hey, Kellin! Look, everyone, Kellin's here!" "I think we should go see the sequel when it comes out, what do you think, Kellin?" "Kellin, what answer did you get on the homework?" etc.

Hearing your new name from other people will reinforce it much more easily than just trying to remember on their own. Unfortunately, we don't actually say our own names out loud very often once we get past the "Hi, my name is" stage of a relationship, so a confederate is your best bet for this kind of direct reinforcement.

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