Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

I work with a lot of young transgender people. Of the countless struggles in the lives of these kids, one of the most common is with their own names. Several of them refer to their birth names as “dead names.” They share some deeply theological understandings about the ontological change accompanying the outward change in one’s own name. This is often the first and most persistent sticking point for parents of trans kids. It’s difficult for many of us to understand how acutely painful this experience can be.

One of the rules in our youth group is that everyone gets to control the name by which they’re called. It’s a basic idea to prevent name-calling and to support those members wondering about gender. It provides a lesson, too, in the power of naming ourselves. A name is like magic—it can make us come alive and step into our belovedness, or it can be weaponized. Blessed are those who choose wisely. 

MOVING FORWARD: How does your name shape the way you see the world?