There are few things more personal than an individual’s name. “Hi. I am, ____,” is communicated in some form in almost every language on Earth. On November 15, 2022, the world population reached 8 billion people. Every one of those people has a name.
During the development of speech and communication skills, children learn that every object in a world full of things has a name. Book, sky, grass, swing, Mom, Dad, “I, am ‘Joanna.’” Each word conjures an image and is used to identify the object. As children get older, they learn that their own names have additional meanings beyond the word used to identify who they are. Family names establish familial identity and given names work to sort people into gendered categories.
The study of naming conventions and social constructs surrounding gender identity and the connection to given names is broad and evolving. One researcher argued that, “At the very beginning of the incorporation of a newborn into social personhood, […] forenames are used in the decisive accomplishment of the categorization of sex.” When naming children, many parents associate “Mike” with “boy” and “Miriam” with “girl,” and name their children accordingly. These associations are powerful and shape almost every aspect of how a child will experience the world.
Over the last 40 years, members of LGBTQ+ communities in America have celebrated liberty-affirming advances in tolerance and enjoyment of personal rights. The right to change a legal name to better reflect who the person is affirms that freedom. In Arizona, A.R.S. §12-601 allows a person to apply for and achieve a legal name change. The name change hearing is a few minutes long but the emotion of such an important event is often seen in the tears of applicants whose lives and identities are legally aligned.
At Donaldson Stewart, PC, our lawyers have participated in dozens of name changes for adults and youth. If you are considering changing your name an experienced lawyer will meet with you to discuss the process and answer your questions.