Being Helen Boyd

So here’s my dirty secret, which I re-realize every time I update my author site, “renaming” myself Helen Boyd for the sake of publication (& some privacy, theoretically) was about the smartest thing I’ve ever done in terms of my own self-confidence. Why? It gives me the feeling, sometimes, that I just work for her.

Which kind of allows me to shove my lack of self-confidence to the side and do what I need to do.

(Of course it did nothing for me in terms of privacy, since it was very shortly afterwards that I started using my legal name on this site & in my bios & elsewhere.)

I wonder if trans people experience anything like that in their own “renamings,” if they let you get rid of old baggage that might have little or nothing to do with gender.

9 Replies to “Being Helen Boyd”

  1. It’s funny; I’ve renamed myself several times. Back in the day when I was running trans groups, being an activist, doing outreach, etc. I was Kara. That was a name I picked on the spur of the moment prior to attending my first trans support group, but which did not seem right to transition into for many reasons. On occasion I will run into people who recall and use that name, even though its been 7-8 years since I adopted Jude. Changing my name was kind of instrumental in me shifting gears from a lighter, frothier, more outwardly focused version of me to a more sober and inwardly focused one.

    I think many in the community would prefer Kara over Jude – Kara was a lot more codependent, ran support groups, wrote newsletters, did outreach, all that stuff and was a lot less able / willing to say “no”.

    I think a renaming now and then is good for soul. We have a few teachers at my yoga studio who have adopted yogi names – and it’s sort of alien to the masses but on some level I am can think of it as their “yoga drag” name.

  2. I’ve changed my name several times, but they were always hidden, until my current name.

    As to the name, it started as just a way to hide myself, but it’s evolved into how I’m identified within the trans-world, and has branched out of the trans-world and started to take on a life of its own (I never expected Tina to write congressmen, for example, and on issues beyond ENDA). It’s given me a way to both understand issues and speak out about them that my male form has never had. I wonder how much of that is the anonymity and how much of it is that concerns I have as Tina need me to be more vocal about them. To me this begs the question of where the name ends and the identity begins.

  3. You’ve written two books, landed teaching jobs in at least two, decent-quality universities, and founded a successful web site. You were able to accomplish this because you’re a competent, talented, well-rounded person. You’ve achieved things about which most people only dream. When you start to experience self-esteem issues, think about this reality instead of any negative feelings.

    Besides. Your partner and your cats love you very much. Partners may lie, but cats NEVER do! (Not casting dispersions on Betty).


  4. Steven Levine, of the Center For Marital Health, regards transition as redefining oneself on one’s own terms. Among folklore is rife with mythology about packing up and starting over out west. Changing names, changing sexs can all do that. Not saying that it’s always that wy…just saying it can be.


  5. ” a rose by any other name”
    would still have thorn’s………
    Love you, whatever name.

    Silly Lizzy
    aka Elizabeth Frazier, aka, Liz, aka. Grandma……

  6. Do you want us to address you as Helen or Gail? Be glad to conform to your consideration.

  7. You always have something to say that I find deeply thought provoking (even though I am so slow to process and reply!).

    That’s an amazing idea to me. I’d never imagined that renaming would empower like that.

    thank you.

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