In 1946, (sounds like a looong time ago), upon birth I was given the name Merryl Tina, a name I grew to dislike intensely and wished with all my heart to rid myself of. The opportunity came along in the early ‘70’s when I met a guru from India who gave me the name Rami. Oh, I was so happy to have a new name, a name that had meaning — “one who revels in the heart”, he said. I liked it, it fit me. I still like it, but now I feel that I marginalized Merryl. Well, I left her in the dust. I wonder…is she me? Would she be me if she’d lived the life I’ve lived? Does she live through Rami? And there have been voices over the past few years that have accused me of cultural appropriation, of taking a name from a culture that was not mine.
Nowadays name changing, pronoun changing, labels in communities like the polyam community, psychopathologizing in psychiatry and psychology, all have become fluid. For some it is very important to label oneself, to change an identity, a name. What’s in a name? A label? Do you feel like you become more connected or disconnected by having a label?