What is in a name? From before we even take our first breathe, outside of our mothers womb, we are given a name. Something people can know us by, and can start to formulate opinions of before they can even see us. People will begin to shop for you based on that name and they feel some sort of comfort in knowing if they are shopping for a boy or a girl.
When I was born it was 1965 and back then ultrasound technology was not being used in the United States. As a matter of fact it would be another 5-10 years before it would even emerge in the states and I would already be firmly known as Beth. There is a part of me that wishes the world could come to a place where we just allow our little creations to emerge as HUMAN and then allow them to share with us who they are as they grow and develop. So that young transgender/nonbinary humans would have the say in what they will be called long before a name that might not suit them takes hold. And they could be respected in their choice to wear non-traditional clothing for their assigned gender.
It is not typical in the transgender community for folks to comfortably share their former names, also referred to as a dead name, but I have never hated the name Beth. I do know, as a progress in my transition, I have moved further and further away from it as something that was a part of me. Most transgender folks refer to their former name as a dead name because it is a part of their identity that is dead to them.
According to the Advocate, “dead-naming” is a term that involves “the practice of uttering or publishing the name that a transperson used prior to transition.” Most of the time, an individual will pick a new name as soon as they begin to identify as the gender they know they are on the inside. This new name, in a way, marks the “death” of their old identity and the person they once were. With a new name, they signify a new, more truthful, and more fully realized phase of their life.
Another thing that is true for me is I don’t honestly feel I was born in the wrong body, just not the one that is 100% me. I still don’t hate my name but I do know that it doesn’t fit who I see myself as being completely and authentically.
The process for coming up with my name was a funny one. After being born and raised in Omaha and 50 years of being Beth and creating my own personal brand, so to speak, it was hard to think of how it might feel to let that all go. Or perhaps to re-create myself on the outside to match who I feel I am on the inside.
Would people still love me?
Would they understand and support me and respect my choice to be called Eli?
Well one thing is for sure, after 50 years of living a life being something I do not feel is 100% authentically me, it was time to start living for ME and allowing myself to have the freedom to be Eli! Regardless of what anyone else thinks about it.
So, here is a short video which further explains my choice to be known as Eli and to allow Beth to take a rest, after all she has really done some extraordinary things over the past 50 years! I will share more with you as I continue along my transition and I promise to answer all of your questions! Thank you for the incredible love and support you have showered on me. Thank you for giving me the freedom to be Eli!
Eli Rigatuso shares why he chose the name, Eli. After 50 years of being known as Beth to his community, it took some time to settle on a name. And as of Thursday, October 22, 2015, his name change was submitted and by December the name will be official. We of course will keep you updated (it is a 6 week process)!
A GREAT BIG THANK YOU goes out to Joni Watke Stacy of Sena, Polk, and Stacy LLP
If you need legal assistance we highly recommend Joni Watke Stacy!