There’s a line from the infamous Shakespearean play Romeo & Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
For people, names are identities. A name is something given at birth, and is how someone is called and identified for as long as they exist in life and memory. While Juliet seems to demean the importance of a name, in reality, it is the core and the face of every living thing. It defines a person, makes a person.
So what happens when you hate it?
I was born Alexandria Clubine, after a flour sack my mother cared for in junior high. It’s a mouthful, so of course my family ran through nicknames to call me: Alex, Alexis, Alexa, Lex, Lexi. They ended up using the obvious one, Alex.
One of the problems with names, is that they don’t belong to a single person. I can’t count how many other people named Alex I met, from all of the Alexandrias and Alexanders. As a child I hated my full name, it just didn’t sound right―but growing up, neither did Alex.
When I walked into DMACC for my first semester in Fall 2018, I went and claimed a seat in my first class. The professor ran through role call, calling out names and making changes when people had nicknames. When my full name was called, I made a split second decision.
I started introducing myself as Xander, and that became who I was. I was Xander, the weirdo wearing shorts and flipflops in the winter. Xander, the new member of Social Justice Club and Banner News. I started introducing myself to groups and new people as Xander, and changed my name on social media. It felt like me, like Xander was meant to be my name.
Unfortunately, family members, previous friends, and legal documentation/situations still had me as Alexandria. Alex. I can’t help but cringe whenever I’m referred as such, and have had people mock me for referring to myself as Xander. To my surprise, though, it’s actually not due to Xander typically being a “boy’s name”, but mostly because of the fact that I bothered to change it at all. A close friend of mine I trusted deeply even brushed the notion off, saying, “You’ll always be Alex to me.”
This made me realize just how entrenched society is. I was expected to keep a name that was slapped onto me before I even existed. Just like pets, we’re expected to react to a call that we had no choice in. It’s not necessarily bad, the idea of parents naming their children, but just the fact that even having the notion of wanting to change someone’s given name/nickname is shamed by society.
Alex is not me. Alexandria isn’t me. I’m Xander. I won’t blame people for calling me Alex out of habit, but to deny my name change and make me out as a stupid fool is an insult to me. It is MY name, and while there are many Xanders in the word as there are Alexs, Jacks, Haileys, and more, it is what I want to be called. While it may not be stated on paper, it is a basic human right to have a name., a name that is YOURS and not just something stapled to you at birth.
This is why I was elated when I found out that in DMACC’s Web Info System there’s a way to add your preferred first name. It has always been a slap in the face to be referred by DMACC and Blackboard as Alexandria, and just another reminder of the legality and the assumptions that come with that name. When my professor mentioned this feature, I immediately hunted it down and added “Xander”. I didn’t expect much to change―just my name to be changed on the class role call list. But to my surprise, the next time I logged into Blackboard, there it was: Xander Clubine.
People take a lot of things for granted… and surprisingly, names are one of them. Even something that seems so simple can have strong ties to the conventional beliefs of society. I believe everything has the right to be called what they want, and that there shouldn’t be shame in changing someone’s name―because in the end, it’s THEIR name, not anyone else’s.
If you wish to change your preferred first name, log into MyDMACC and go into the Web Info System. Click on Personal Information, and you’ll find View/Update Preferred First Name at the bottom of the list. From there, it’ll show your legal name, but there will be a bar to insert your preferred first name.