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Originally published on April 11, 2013 2:00 pm Names are possessions that we carry with us all our lives. Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software.
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Some choose to change their first names in adulthood, because of family history or pure disdain for a moniker.
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Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad. And as I was doing that, I was looking at names and thinking, you know, is this the right name for me if I decide to do this?" Hansen considered keeping his birth name, Lindsay, since it is a unisex name. Minecraft is coming out for Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, and Xbox One soon, but we don’t have release dates for those versions yet. He knew that his parents planned to name him Scott if he'd been born a boy, but he said that didn't seem right either.
And so I decided not to go with that one." Hansen also had a generational factor to consider. Would he choose a name that is popular now, or that was popular decades ago when he was born? And so they end up being names that a lot of 3-year-olds or 4-year-olds have, and then they're 25." Someone suggested that Hansen look for names that connected to his family heritage and could fit nicely with his last name. So it was kind of a big transition all at the same time." He sent an email to all of his friends asking them to use the name Silas, and it took a few weeks for it to really stick. Hansen remembers practicing introductions with his new name in the mirror, and hesitating before giving his name at restaurants and coffee shops.
Transcript NEAL CONAN, HOST: Most of us carry the name our parents gave us for the rest of our lives, whether we like it much or not. So if you have changed your first name as an adult, what did you pick and why; 800-989-8255. Silas Hansen's essay about his transition and name change was part of an MFA thesis that he's just defended at the Ohio State University. And I know from reading your piece, some of your friends pointed out Lindsay can be a man's name, too; you didn't have to change anything, except maybe the Rebecca. I think it used to be more of a masculine name but now, it seems much more feminine, and so it just didn't feel right to me. I know some friends, actually, who are transgender, who - they had names before they transitioned that were more androgynous; names like Alex or Jordan, and things like that. But they still chose to change it because it was a signifier that they had transitioned into the person that they'd always thought that they were. CONAN: And then you get the problem of figuring out, what name is the person you always wanted to be?
HANSEN: It was a very lengthy process for me, that kind of mirrored my process of coming to terms with the fact that I am transgender. It wasn't something that I just, you know, woke up one day and said, you know, this is what I want to do.
And as I was doing that, I was looking at names and thinking - you know, is this the right name for me, if I decide to do this? And then later, when I decided that it is something that I wanted to do, I was asking more - you know, is this right name for when I want to do this?


I started with names that I liked, but a lot of those were names that other people I knew had.
CONAN: Did you ask your parents what they might have named you, had you been a boy when you were born? But I know some friends who when they transitioned, they did use the name that their parents had chosen for them if they were a different gender. CONAN: I was interested - one idea you had was to look at the names that were popular the year you were born. It's actually - I know a lot of trans guys who have chosen names that are more popular now, and they're very trendy right now.
And so they end up being names that a lot of like, 3-year-olds or 4-year-olds have, and then they're 25.
And one of the reasons you picked it, first of all, your father's heritage is Danish, and you just looked up some names that were popular in Denmark.
In my dad's family, a lot of the men have Danish names; names like Otto, and things like that. And so I was looking at names that felt like they could fit with my last name, that could have connected to me that heritage. If you Google my name, a lot of the people that show up live in, you know, Odense or Frederiksberg, or places like that.
So I changed - I asked people to start calling me that the same time that I asked them to use male pronouns, and explained to them that I was transgender. And I knew that my friends - some of my friends already knew that this was something I was considering. And so I tried it with them first because I figured that it would be harder to kind of explain to my parents that I was thinking about this, and ask them to try to make that transition; and then change back to a different - you know, to the original name, if it didn't feel right. CONAN: And you wrote about an interesting moment, the first time one of your friends called you Silas.
And then the next day, I was hanging out with some friends; and they had all read the email, but no one had talked to me about it yet.
At first, I was worried that it wasn't the right name for me, or that I'd made a mistake in deciding to transition and that I was going to have to, you know, pick a different name or tell them that I'd been wrong.
I knew that other people would have to get used to it, but I hadn't expected that I would need to. CONAN: Was there a - I think of it as the Robert De Niro "Taxi Driver" moment, where he's talking to himself in the mirror; "Are you talking to me?" Were you sitting there looking at the mirror, saying, "Pass the butter, Silas"? HANSEN: I did practice saying it in the mirror because I knew that it was a name that I was going to have to introduce myself as, and there were several times I would have to - you know, I'd go into the coffee shop and order something, and they'd ask for a name. But then around - I told my friends in mid-June, and by early August, I didn't have to remind myself anymore. And I think I wrote in the essay - I can't remember if it was in that version - about filling out a legal form, and I'd written the name Silas when that wasn't my legal name yet.
And - well, we have a Lindsay on the line; Lindsay calling us from Fort Collins in Colorado. I was living with my partner in 1978 and her two little girls, and one of them came home and was talking about linsey-woolsey. And when we moved the family to California, I changed my name when I got my California license. And since I had been - you know, I was coming out of the closet, and I wanted to - and I was changing my geographic location from Rhode Island to California, I decided to change my first name. They actually - they seemed to adjust more quickly to me coming out of the closet, than me changing my name.


I think the name thing was difficult, in terms of just getting used to it and kind of - it was like, the most obvious thing that had changed about me.
And they did really well with trying to come to terms with that, but I think it took some time. And this from Vervag(ph) - excuse me - Ed, rather: I changed my name as an adult because I was named after my abusive father. And it was not until we moved within the state that I chose a name that I picked out of a baby naming book I borrowed from the local library. Being of Iranian descent in the late 1970s, it was a tough time for our family in light of the hostage crisis.
And if you'd like to read a version of the essay he submitted for his MFA - at least, part of that - you can go to npr.org, and click on TALK OF THE NATION.
And when my parents were first married and then, in the late '50s when I was born, the connotations to the name, obviously, were very different. I was told I was going to be either Holly or Heather, but another lady on the block was naming her child that. And I've hated it all my life, and I just - it wasn't until I got married that I decided make the change. And my - at the time my fiance, now my husband, said that he really liked that, and that's why I chose it. I wonder - I think there are an awful lot of people, like Grace, who for one reason or another, dislike the name they were given as a child.
I've talked about it with friends before, and most of - a lot of them will tell me, you know, that's not what I picture myself being called but, you know, that's the name that I've carried for my whole life.
And I had - I heard you make your comment about, I think you said your grandfather; and I had to stand up for my name a little bit. Cornelius actually was my first name, but I didn't know it until I was probably about 8 or 9 years old. And I remember, distinctly, handing it to the woman there - taking all this information - and this pause, and saying the name Cornelius and looking at me.
I didn't - I was raised as Pat or Patrick, which is my middle name, and no one ever told me that that was my real name. And so I kind of kept Pat until I got to college and then, you know, registering there, I always got addressed as Cornelius when they would do roll. Actually, I say that too, sometimes, because actually, I use it to illustrate some concepts when I teach.
And it's really funny, "Planet of the Apes" and all that stuff, depending how old somebody is, they all kind of ring a bell - remember that name there?
CONAN: The best-known Cornelius changed both his names - Cornelius McGillicuddy to Connie Mack.
But it's funny - when people that know me as Cornelius realize that I was actually called Pat at one time, they're kind of surprised. And people that knew me as Pat way back when, when they found out my name was really Cornelius, they don't know what to do with that, either.



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