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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

New Information

DOROTHY: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?

GLINDA: You don't need to be helped any longer. You've always had the power to go back to Kansas.

DOROTHY: I have?

SCARECROW: Then why didn't you tell her before?

GLINDA: Because she wouldn't have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

I have a French friend, Sasha, staying with me for a couple of nights. He asked me why I wanted to change my name. I gave hi a look, but before I could speak, he continued, "It's a gender neutral name in France." And went on to tell me that it was exceedingly traditional.

Saint Céleste was the second bishop of Metz, around the end of the third century. My middle name is "Marie", which is a traditional masculine middle name for Catholic French men. To pick an unfortunate example, it's the middle name of Jean Marie Le Pen.

Sasha said, you can't get much more traditional than that, the name of a bishop and then Marie as a middle name.

It's somewhat archaic. In the 18th century, it would have been male all the time. Now, it's more often given to girls, but still can go either way.

All my life, I've wished I had a gender neutral name.

What do you mean I've had it the entire time?!

I had filled out zero paperwork towards trying to get my name changed. It's a bit of a pain in the ass, obviously, especially living abroad. I was going to wait until I could also change my gender marker, which will also require a new passport - and thus a new student visa. It took me months to get the last one, so you can see why I hesitate.

It's certainly simpler not to change my name at all. Ok, in English, it's almost always given to girls, but it's not an English name. Really, what was my mom thinking giving me a French name in the first place? There's no French in my family, even, except for a rumor that her maiden name had distantly French origins. Like, Norman Invasion sort of distant.

I have a hobby, and that's second guessing myself.

But name wasn't nearly as girly as I thought. Plus, I have a saint day, the 14th of October. (This is something that matters in Catholic school . . ..) And the saint was a dude. If I wanted to change my name because it was much too feminine, but it turns out to have masculine roots and a masculine present, well, that changes things.

In the states, nobody will have heard of such a thing, but it's not common there anyway and I'm not going back in the next two years, so . . . What to do? I want to work this out sooner, rather than later. It's a funny thing, Sasha brought it up because I was changing it, but never mentioned it earlier.

I feel kind of like Dorothy in that scene in the Wizard of Oz. (that's so so gay.)

3 comments:

eigenadam said...

That is really interesting. So, now if you get people asking things like "isn't Celeste a girl's name?", you can just say it's French.

Actually, it might not be bad for a musician. Though Les or Charles are also good names.

C Hutchins said...

I will still use Les as a nickname whether I go with Charles or stay with Celeste. I'm thinking of staying. I feel much better about it, now that I know it's history.

Polly Moller said...

That's really profound.
Although I think Celestus Augustus might work too. ;)