Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Game of the Name

By Gina V

Greetings to you all! Stana has kindly invited me to contribute towards her most excellent site and as such, I hope I can keep up the high standard.

In another recent guest feature, I noted that the author revealed that her femme name had been changed since her alter ego first surfaced. Which reminded me that I have pondered on occasion if given names are a chicken-and-egg thing, as we are all bestowed one for life when we have no say in the matter 

So do our names influence us as we gain self-consciousness? Would a girl called Angelina start acting and dressing more femininely than one called Ann? Or a Dave get more macho as he grew older than a Damien? Johnny Cash touched on that in his song “A Boy Named Sue,” but I don’t know if anyone has done more extensive research into this subject?

My mother was determined to give me a (male) birth name she considered a a rarity. And it was, to the point where I went through my childhood like Tigger (the only one!). Looking back, I am fairly sure it was a factor in how my personality developed: not only as a bit of a loner (as one teacher noted in a school report), but a secretly narcissistic one as well. And who knows – maybe even a reason I found myself attracted to wearing lady things at an early age?

Anyway, most ordinary Joes (and Josephines) accept their lot and spend their lives bearing the name that for better or worse, they inherited.Some pick up a nickname from others along the way and may then use that in preference to their given one. That seems more often the case with men than women, but a school peer of mine was dubbed “Wilma” by a teacher (something to do with the Flintstones, apparently) and as a res,ult she is still known to one and all as that even today. 

But only a small minority, who may resent the name their parents have lumbered them with, ever seem to do something about it formally. For example, I once greeted a work colleague of mine as “Julie” only to be informed that henceforth she be addressed as “Adele”! 

Her stance seemed rather bizarre to me and I even mocked her behind her back. However, eventually it became second nature for me to think of and refer to her as she wished. I can’t remember if she explained her reasons for what she did, but I suspect she felt her given name was somewhat common in more ways than one (especially, if shortened to “Jools”) and decided to distance herself from that accordingly.

Despite  “transvesting” for over a decade, it had never occurred to me to give my femme persona a name as I was still locked in my own bubble. However, once a transperson (finally) emerges into the public arena, unless they have been blessed with a unisex name such as “Lee” or “Kim,” they are not likely to use their male one. And thus, unlike those named at birth, have a unique opportunity to give themselves one of their own liking. 

Some have simply elected for the female equivalent of their male name (e.g., “Paul”/”Paula,” etc), whilst others have grabbed the chance like kids let loose in a sweet shop to select something far more fanciful even if it didn’t particularly suit them.

So in my case, I found myself making that decision on the same night I made my full-blown public debut! My given name had no female version to my knowledge, so I hastily considered what might be the next-best quick-fix option, which was an anagram (or as near as dammit) of a girls’ name that already existed. I also decided I wanted something that reflected my look and aspirations. Therefore, it was convenient that one of my icons was the ultra-femme Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida (thanks to her, I was never tempted to choose “Dolly” or “Joan”). So, in the heat of the moment plumped for that.

Then shortly after, I discovered that the first transperson I met and befriended (who I later lodged with for many years) had a sister of the same name! Despite him usually referring to her by a family “pet” name, I felt somewhat ill-at-ease with the one I had chosen. And would have picked another had I known. However, I decided that like the average football team supporter, it was not the thing to do to change one’s allegiance simply because things were not going to plan. So I stuck with it.

In the years since, then I have realised that although not an ideal choice, thanks to the above situation, it is a name that exudes style and class and thus, transcends trends. So overall, I am okay with it. 

Had I more time to think about it, I might have gone for the name that my mother had in mind for me were – Lois. But by then, it was too late. If I ever change my name officially, then I could adopt that as a middle name. 

Things could have been far worse. I am eternally grateful that I never decided on something that was the in vogue at the time, but has since become somewhat of an embarrassment, e.g., “Kayleigh” or “Kylie!”

Wearing Veronica Beard
Wearing Veronica Beard

Alexandre Styker femulating in the 2013 French film Belinda and Me
Alexandre Styker femulating in the 2013 French film Belinda and Me.
Search YouTube for “Belinda et moi” to view clips from the film.


  1. My goal was to detach my femme self from my non-femme self. As I am still "unknown" by most of my colleagues, I wanted to keep it that way. My family name is VERY unique, so that was a no brainer. I simply took the first syllable! As for my first name, my male moniker can be unisex, but that left too much chance of being found out, too scary. So I took the name of my first (that I can recall) celebrity crush, the forever gorgeous Julie Newmar. (in fact, on my first public outing to Dragstrip 66, I identified myself as "Julie New-ma'am") Giving my femme self a persona and identity has helped tremendously in giving me a spirit of freedom and existence.

    1. for those who have not already suspected from my prose, i am a "brit". as such, ms newmar is only known on this side of the pond (as "catwoman") by a small minority - perhaps a reason that patrick swayze drag film bombed here?

      our two famous julies are ms andrews of this parish (who of course is known universally for her wholesome, almost virginal character) and julie goodyear. the latter played a barmaid for many years in the long-running british popular soap opera "coronation street", who (in contrast to mary poppins) was common, tarty and brassy to put it mildly! to the extent where a trans chum of mine used to refer to their leopardskin fur coat as "the bet lynch"!

      so maybe that was a reason my work colleague decided to change her name?

  2. "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." So what's in a name? Some have spent a lot of time choosing a name. Me? I never gave it a thought until I read something about choosing a name. Then, in a split second a name came into my head-I didn't love it-it wasn't overly familiar-I had known some women with the name, but no one that close to me-no sibling or relative. I don't know why I thought of it, but at the time I thought no one gets to choose their birth name so I should just stick with the name.
    Then came time for a "family" name, for that I gave some thought and decided to choose the name of one of my favorite authors-James Joyce. (It happens that he included a reference to crossdressing in his novel, Ulysses.) So Susan Joyce was born.
    I decided to include another favorite author (in reverse) in my monogram-J.D. Salinger, who also included a crossdressing scene in "Catcher in the Rye." Trouble is I have never been able to choose a middle name beginning with "D." It might be a family name; maybe something else. Any suggestions?

    1. i extended the "v" of my femme alias into a proper surname when i put on a drag revue at university. but that's another story...

  3. Dear Stana,

    I chose “Sheila” because it starts with SHE. I love my femme persona being referred to as “she” and “her”.



  4. can i just say btw?: the pic accompanying this article was the night i became "gina", therefore, it was perhaps no surprise that my expression whilst posing for this photo was somewhat pensive?