How to Change Your Name 3 Times
A story of transition, family estrangement, and academic achievement
I have a lot to say about names. Like most writers who’ve dabbled in fiction, I’ve spent ages trawling baby name websites, diving into the meaning and vibe given off by a particular array of syllables. And as someone who has been active in chat rooms, forums, and on social media since 1998, I have considered and tried on many labels and pseudonyms for myself.
Then there’s the fact that I’ve changed my own legal name twice. Three times, if you count when I got my PhD.
And I do count it. Getting a doctorate changed my prefix, the way people address me, the way that I go about correcting people for misgendering me. “It’s Dr. Price, actually” goes down a lot smoother than “I’m not a Ms., because I’m not a woman.” Dr. is what shows up before my name on airline tickets and pins on my lapel at academic events. Changing it altered how the world legally refers to me, so I count it as a legal name change.
It also creates a nice symmetry. My three name changes trifurcate my entire adult life up to this point, split it cleanly into three particular eras of rebellion and identity. I changed my last name when I was 18. I got my PhD when I was 25. And when I was 30, I changed my first name as part of my gender transition.
From 2006 to the present, I have changed, in a piecemeal fashion, from Erika Dawn Bohannon to Devon Erika Price, PhD. So I have a lot to say about picking a name, adopting a name, sharing a new name with others. And in order to make sense of my most recent change, I’d like to explore the process and consequence of each change, layer by layer, starting at the beginning.
Price née Bohannon
My dad was a bad person. Or was my dad a distressed person? An abusive person? A person the world failed? Doesn’t matter. The damage was done no matter the reason.
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