Adult Name Change Issue: A Girl Named Justin

Justin writes:

Hi! So my name is Justin Danielle Chapman. And I’m a 25 year old mother of two boys, Henry McRae and Beckett Charles. As you can see my name is extremely manly and I want to change it. Since I was a little girl I’ve not liked it…. I have story after story of the issues I’ve had of having the name Justin as a girl. For a season I tried to go by Danielle but it just didn’t fit, and when people just glance at my full name they see Justin Daniel… My husbands name is Barnabas and sadly when we go places and have to sign things people think my name is Barnabas and he is Justin ( which is crazy ). I get things in the mail all the time Mr. Justin. I have to ALWAYS explain my name to people and even spell it to them over the phone cause they just can’t believe that it’s Justin. I get called Justine, Justice, Jessica, etc all the time and don’t like those for me. People have asked me quite often “what were your parents thinking”!
I am very feminine and just want a feminine name…

So my questions are:
Have you ever heard of a girl named Justin?
Should I change it and go through the hassle of it?
And what do I change it to?
My husband and I are big on the meaning of names and so by changing I’m changing the meaning, should I care about that?

Because of our last name I’ve named my boys old English heritage names. I love them. If they had been girls they would have been Ametta, Eliza, or Adelaide calling her Ada ( a-duh ).

I love very unique, more out of the normal names, but do I do something drastic or just simple?

Here is a list of what I’ve been thinking for me:
Jane Emmerson Chapman ( favorite so far ) still staying with a J so that its not to drastic.
But I like-
Windsor
Hollister
Eliza
Faye
Grey
Elle

Your thoughts and advice on names and what to do would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so so much :)

 

I think for me the most important thing would be to choose a name that could reasonably have been mine. So I might start by talking to your parents if that’s an option, and asking what other names they considered for you, and seeing if any of those feel like they’d fit. Or is there a story behind your name, a story from which additional name options could be harvested?

Without knowing that information, my first suggestion is one you mentioned but not from your list: Justine. It’s a small and simple change, and anyone who saw the old version wouldn’t need an explanation because they’d assume it was a typo. And because it’s the feminine version of the name Justin, you wouldn’t be changing name meanings. The name Justine was in common-but-not-overly-common usage the year you were born, so it won’t cause the startle effect of using a name that’s currently fashionable but wasn’t used at all back then. (For example, the year you were born, the name Justin was used for girls far more often than the names Elle and Emerson were.)

Justina would also be pretty.

But I see you don’t like the name Justine for yourself, so my next choice would be Jane from your list. It’s simple enough, gives you the same initial, and makes for a quick and reasonable explanation: “My parents named me Justin; I’ve changed it to Jane.” I think if you go with something like Windsor, you’re going to get a lot of people reacting very similarly to the way they react to the name Justin—with the added issue of having to explain that it’s a name you chose for yourself. I think people can be a little eye-rolly about self-chosen names that seem too fancy. It seems like there’s a world of difference between “Yeah, my parents named me Windsor” and “I didn’t like my given name, so I changed it to Windsor.”

June would be another good choice. It was fairly unusual the year you were born, but is familiar enough in general, and similar enough to your given name, that I think it would work well.

Or Julia might be my favorite. Julia Chapman.

I also wonder about sort of mashing your first and middle together to get something like Joelle.

Or perhaps we should look for a match from the second half of the name: Kristin, Kerstin, Kierstin, Tina.

The most important thing, though, is that the name feel natural to you. Can you imagine your husband calling you the name? your friends? your family? Picture yourself calling to make an appointment and giving each name; which ones feel most comfortable? Picturing introducing yourself. Picture filling in a family tree, or filling in school forms for your kids, or putting the name on a wedding invitation or a resume. Does it feel like YOU?

It may be that you’ll decide to change it but that you’ll have to wait until the right name presents itself. When you think you have the right name, I’d suggest giving it a nice long trial period before legally changing it and telling everyone to use it. The worst, I think, would be to go through the hassle of changing it and then find that THAT name didn’t work either, and be right back to the list-making. One name change is about the maximum I can imagine asking family and friends to adjust to.

If you want a Windsor/Hollister type of name, I suggest looking in your family tree for good surnames. The explanation, “Oh, it was my grandmother’s maiden name” is much easier than getting into the whole story of the name change.

You could also look in your family tree for first names.

I’d also suggest looking at the Social Security Administration’s baby name site to see what names were being used the year you were born. A name will attract less attention if it seems reasonable for your age.

If meaning is important to you, I suggest looking for a meaning similar to the meaning of Justin (“just, fair”). Those are unfortunately in short supply (and hard to look up, since “fair” can also mean pale-faced/haired), but perhaps a meaning having to do with honor, trust, fidelity, etc., would feel similar enough.

48 thoughts on “Adult Name Change Issue: A Girl Named Justin

  1. Martha

    It is very interesting that you don’t mention at all why your parents gave you that name! It is too bad you don’t like Justine, as I think it is a lovely alternative for your situation and would be so easy. Of your list, I like Elle the best. Elle is a beautiful, simple, and very feminine name. Elle and Justine remind me of the name Simone, which I absolutely love. The other little girl I know with the middle name of Danielle is named Claire, and Claire is another name like Elle–short and simple, although slightly more androgynous because Clair can also be a male name in some cultures.

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  2. stephanie

    I think I’d be more inclined to try to come up with a name that was more similar to Justin than something that was totally different, so of the ones on your list, I’d prefer Jane. I also think that Jess, Jessie, or Tina could be nicknames that you use for Justin for a while and then if you like one of those, make the legal change to that name if you want.

    From Swistle’s list, I also like June and Kristin as similar to Justin, although I think they are more obviously a change.

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  3. Katie

    I don’t think changing your name to something radically different would be a good idea- your name is an identifier and without it people wouldn’t know you were you (i.e. job references, people looking you up on facebook etc.) I think picking a name that’s close to Justin would be a good idea- Justine seems to be the obvious choice (people would assume Justin was a nick name or a typo) like Swistle said but I also agree that June and Jane are good choices…. or Jennifer- you could go by Jenny.

    I see that the name Elle is on your list. That change would be easy to make without any paperwork- your middle name is Danielle and if people asked you could just say it’s a nick name. Lots of people go by their nick names. I once knew a girl who went by “Liz” after her middle name which was Elizabeth. At the same time, you could add an “e” to Justin to avoid being mistaken for a male in formal/legal situations. You could ask your husband and close friends to start calling your Elle/Ellie and hopefully it would catch on. Danny or Annie would also work in the same way.

    At the same time, I think it’s important to acknowledge that if you change your name, you’re always going to have to explain to people from your past and people at the passport office/bank/government offices that “oh, I’ve changed my name” just like how you now have to explain that your a woman with the name Justin (having a different first and last name than the one on your birth certificate can be a hassle).

    I also think Swistle’s suggestion to stick with names common to your era is important- Eliza, Grey, Hollister and Windsor would all sound great on a five year old today but would be strange on a mom. I think they would end up causing you a lot of grief.

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  4. Sarah

    It seems like if you are going to change your name because you find yours too “manly” as you say, then I would deffinitely avoid Windsor, Hollister and Grey, all which sound very male to my ears. You would be right back where you started!
    I like your first choice Jane!

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  5. A

    I agree that Windsor, Hollister & Grey feel just as male to me as Justin. They also have the added problem of being uncommon for anyone (male or female) your age, so you’ll probably encounter just as many problems with them as you do Justin.

    Since you have Elle on your list, and your middle name is Danielle you could just switch Danielle to the first position and then “go by” Elle. It seems that for legal purposes, this would be easier/less confusing-and I don’t think Elle as a nickname for Danielle would raise many eyebrows. Heck, if you didn’t want to go through all the hassle, you could just start using “J. Danielle, but I go by Elle”

    Of the names on your list, I probably like Jane the best. Though I’d encourage you to keep Danielle as the middle. Again, for legal purposes I think switching to another J. Danielle type name might make the transition easier.

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  6. Kerry

    If you like Jane, Faye, and Grey…maybe you’d like Jay? It’s still slightly masculine, but not as dramatically as Justin, and could pass as a natural nickname.

    You could also take Tina from the second half of your name. Or Ju from Justin and D from Danielle could be Judy. I knew a Julie who got everyone to call her Jewel for a while. Going from Justin to Jewel isn’t all that much more of a stretch.

    OR! If Chapman is your married name, maybe your maiden name might be usable? You seem to like some surname names. And even if your maiden name is Lipschitz, you could be Elle based on that.

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  7. Heather

    I decided to pop over to nameberry and see if Justine was part of any lists on there…and the number one hit was “If you like Danielle…you might like Justine!” Isn’t that funny. I get the feeling that sticking with your first initial will make the whole process less of a shock to you and your family. Someone in my family changed hers to something not even remotely resembling her original name. Honestly, it sounds really odd on an older woman (think someone in their late forties named Kinzey or Haleigh). I love Jane, I don’t think you could go wrong with a classic. Judith also comes to mind. Julianna for something uber feminine? I really like the idea of adding an a to make it Justina.
    Some other J’s:
    Jade
    Joanna
    Josephine
    Jodie
    Jacqueline
    Jamie (my girl cousin’s name, born in the 80′s)
    Janelle (almost a combo of your first and middle name)
    Janette
    Jasmine
    Jenna
    Jillian
    Jules

    Some of those might not be your taste, but I like them, and I feel as though any one of them could work on an above 5 year old :) Good luck, I think the most important thing will be giving yourself plenty of time to commit to a new identity before you make it official. There’s not rush!

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  8. Helena

    I know 2 people who’ve changed their names. A girl named Kevin and a guy whose common-Romanian-name looked like Caitlin to English speakers. Both had the issue of not appearing to be of their gender.

    Anyway, I think it’s hard as a name person to think of new names because there’s SUCH temptation to take from what is popular now. I’m OK with my name now, but I always wanted to change it when I was little (and not to something else popular in 1982)! It’s hard not to get caught up in what is new now and what makes sense with your age.

    I echo the others that it would be easier to keep the initial (Jane) or make the switch to Justine/a (though surely that must have occurred to you and you already dismissed it).

    I have no issue remembering Kevin’s now-name. In fact, it’s funny. When I think of “Kevin” I think of her in 5th grade (pre-name change) and her now-name is… who she is now.

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  9. Stephanie

    I have a (female) relative named Justin, and I actually love it. Not in a “let’s start handing out to girls” sort of way, but for her, it’s just perfect. However, she frequently goes by Justy, which is spunky and just feminine enough that she rarely gets mistaken for a boy when she uses it. I actually prefer the full Justin on her, but since you hate it for yourself, maybe you could try shortening it to Justy and see if that feels more like you/causes less confusion?

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  10. Cait

    Do your husband or close friends call you by a nicknames that you like ( “J”, Juss, Jess or Tina all seem like natural nicknames for me from Justin)? Maybe go from there?

    If not, I agree with the Swistle and above commenters – Jane or Elle seem the most natural transition from Justin Danielle while still getting the feminine sound you want.

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  11. Sky

    One of the characters in the Angela Thirkell Barsetshire novels is Justinia Lufton – I think Justinia sounds more feminine than either Justine or Justina. I would pronounce it with the first “I” short – like in Justin or the Emperor Justinian – rather than with the long “e” of Justine.

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  12. Abby@AppMtn

    Hi Justin – I changed my name as an adult. Even if you loathe and detest your given name, it is jarring. And even though it has been a dozen years since my legal name change, there are still people who refer to me by my old name. I’ve never regretted the choice, but I have moments when I do feel the tiniest bit disconnected from it.

    Anyway, here’s a thought: I didn’t legally change my first name. I kept it, and changed my middle. Much as I still dislike my first name, and I still use it on legal documents and at the dentist, I’m now known in 99% of my life by a name I prefer.

    Then again, my situation is different than yours … I just didn’t like my name. You have a concrete frustration with your name. Which makes me think that Swistle’s thought about becoming Justine might be a thing to consider.

    What if you became Justine MIDDLE and became known by the middle? Justine Emmerson, call me Emmerson. Justine Hollister, call me Hollister. It lets you change your name to something you like, with “Oh, I prefer to be known by my middle name” as an explanation. But by adding the “e” you also address the girl-called-Justin issue. (Absolute truth: I have yet to meet anyone who realizes that Abigail was not my middle name at birth. Including many relatives who were around when I was born.) Unless I’ve discussed the name change with them, almost no one knows.

    Timing matters, too. I changed my name after I left graduate school, before I started working. I’ve had to disclose the name change once – for a background check for a job – and if my new employer thought anything about it, it never came up.

    Best wishes!

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    1. Kacie

      I love Abby’s solution! Justine NEW MIDDLE, and going by your middle. That would probably be the easiest to do. I also agree with others who said Windsor and Hollister and Grey probably wouldn’t work. Best of luck! Would love to hear an update.

      Reply
  13. Gammeldame

    I like Swistle’s idea of asking your parents if there were any other names they liked when naming you, if possible. I have a decidedly male name myself and once heard that my dad liked the name Naomi for me before I was born. So while I wouldn’t change my name at this time in my life (mid forties) I have a bit of a soft spot for that name and have wished for it to be mine ever since I heard about it.

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  14. Emily

    What was your maiden name? Just curious! I know a woman who goes by a nickname for her maiden name. Gabriel was the maiden name and she goes by Gabe. Anyway, I really like the previous poster’s comment about changing it to Justine but going by the new middle name. Or changing it to Justine and going by Justy or Josie. Best of luck to you! Please update us!

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  15. hystcklght3

    I definitely agree with the ideas about minimizing the legal change .. or not doing it at all. Tons of people go by nicknames all the time that would never be written on their birth certificates–but they’re almost exclusively known as those names. I guess it wouldn’t take care of doctor’s offices and such calling you by the wrong name, but probably about half of people need to clarify something (my maiden name was a complicated polish name, and I was so excited to marry someone with a common name–little did I know how often I’d have to explain variant spellings, despite its easy-to-pronounce perk! Every name really does have it’s upsides and downsides). I guess saying “everyone deals with it” isn’t too helpful though, huh? Anyway, in short, I’d just reassure you that the law doesn’t define who you are … and probably what’s more important is the everyday stuff. Hm, although, maybe people in your family wouldn’t be convinced enough to call you that name if it weren’t legally changed?

    Also, I completely second Abigail’s thoughts from above–I did the same thing! I changed my middle name
    when I was confirmed (which is really common among my family and in my faith tradition). So, it was a fairly natural time to switch one’s name, and I got to choose a name I liked. For a while, only close friends called me by my middle name “nickname.” But once I got to college, I introduced myself as that name. So … if you have any upcoming natural life-shifts (new jobs, new activities, new town), I’d say it’s definitely worth it to be patiently wait for a natural change-time. And, somehow it made it easier to make the shift among people who knew me before college, too … it was nice to have the “it’s what people call me in college” line. Plus, it felt like having the strength in numbers or something–since my college friends called me by my new name, it gave me proof/courage that it did ‘work’ as my name, or it really was my name, or something like that. :)

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  16. Manday

    I agree with the general gist of the previous posts. Changing a first name seems like a big deal in and of itself, so making the change more subtle seems smart.

    I love Justinia! Its is very feminine and elegant. I also like the idea of leaving your name how it is, but trying to be called “Elle” for Danielle, or you could change your name to Justine Elle and go by Elle. Another possibility would be Dana (for Danielle). Or Dani.. I know Dani is also a “boys name”, but its edgy to me.

    I hope it goes smoothly for you and you find what you are looking for!

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  17. Dubs

    Alright, so…..I’m 29, I’m trying to be a mom, and my name is W!nds0r A11yn. A11yn pronounced al-lynn, like the boy’s name Alan, Allen, Allan, etc on the spellings. After high school, I have always had the trouble of being mistaken for a dude (I don’t know why it never happened before, maybe because I was born and raised in the South, so unusual girl’s names are the norm). I have been on the male urinalysis list more times than I care to count, I have been placed in the male dorms, etc. If you’re trying to stay away from a name that sounds too masculine, I wouldn’t recommend Windsor. (For the record, I love my name, I have never met another. My biggest complaint is that people assume I said Lindsey, Linda, or Winter, and I hate being called those names.)

    While I know you would like to change it, is it worth the hassle of changing every legal document, trying to explain to previous employers when you need a recommendation, high school transcripts, etc the change? You didn’t say how old your boys are, but would it be confusing to them if you did?

    If I were in a similar situation, I think I might try a nickname or something along those lines. “Hi, my name is Justin Danielle, but call me Jane.” Or Abby’s suggestion is great too, changing your middle name to one you like while keeping your first Justin, and going by that name. “Hi, my name is Justin Eliza, but call me Eliza.”

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

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  18. Robin

    Your initials are JD. At first I thought of using Jaydee (you can spell it however you want, I only wrote it like that so you’d pronounce it like I was thinking of it). And then I thought Jade. I’m kind of surprised you haven’t used something like that your whole life. I know plenty of people who either go by their initials or their middle name.

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  19. Brigid

    I changed my name when I was 13, and I’ve still had to disclose it on almost every background check (jobs, housing, etc). I keep a copy of the name change certificate next to my birth certificate for easy access every time I go to the DMV.
    And some of the people still call me by my given name (which is now one of my middles). For years I didn’t know how to introduce myself in front of those who still called me my given name–so I’d just say both. (I didn’t dislike my given name, I was simply already going by Brigid and preferred to make it official.) It took a long time to feel real, and occasionally I still get flashes of this “nameless” feeling.

    I think you’ll have the best luck with a nickname. Jess, Jessie, Justy, Tina, Elle.

    I wouldn’t even blink if someone said simply, “Hello, my name is Justin, and I go by Jane.”

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    1. Kelly

      Brigid – If you’re name was changed at 13 (at that age you probably would’ve done it through your parents) there shouldn’t even be a need to bring it up in most “typical” background checks (unless you were going through something like a security clearance). What they want to know is for example is if any work references or school records are under another name; unless you were working (illegally!) or in high school before that age you generally don’t even have to put the name down on job applications and the like even if they ask for prior names. Someone (who appears to be adopted) asked that at the following site (it’s the #6 question):
      http://www.askamanager.org/2013/03/short-answer-sunday-7-short-answers-to-7-short-questions-32.html

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      1. Brigid

        Probably true, but the questions are typically worded something like, “Have you ever been known as another name?” It’s unlikely that they’d notice, but I’m leery of not filling out paperwork accurately.

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        1. Kelly

          If the question were interpreted literally, that would mean that not disclosing any pseudonyms you use online or wherever, any names that you’ve ever “tried out” and may have a passing reference to in writing somewhere remote, or even nicknames from childhood would create issues. (A pseudonym that you would have to reveal is any alias that your criminal records would be under, if like most employers they run a check on that.) Remember a legal name change is not the only way to have “been known by another name”; clearly what they’re going for are names that information they want to check is under (in fact some adoptees may not even be aware of their birth name if the records were sealed and they haven’t bothered to make contact with their birth parents). Actually, in cases where knowing the former or pseudonymous name would indicate something worthy of a discrimination lawsuit (such as religion, national origin, or transgender status) an employer seeking the name out without needing to know it might land them in trouble (I know that probably doesn’t apply in your personal case, but it’s worth mentioning).

          An alternative (for anyone reading this) if you’re super-worried and don’t want to disclose your former name unless absolutely necessary (and nothing would be under that name) is what I recommended to a transgender friend in a similar situation – ask someone at the company first (so far with the exception of a federal government security-clearance job the answer has been unanimous in that she doesn’t need to disclose a name that nothing would be under) or put down in the blank space “none that any records would appear under” and for discrimination lawsuit reasons they probably won’t ask any further. (That transgender friend is also who referenced me to the page describing how to amend your birth certificate.)

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        2. Kelly

          Another point: I’m not trying to debate Brigid’s opinion (if she’s fine talking about her past name), but that if you’re name was changed in childhood and you don’t want to devolve into details if the issue was an adoption, paternity dispute, parent remarriage, etc., I’m pointing out that in general you do not need to bring up the issue with employers, landlords, etc. (Now if you have for example have a checkered employment or criminal history, and you try and cover that up by changing your name and not revealing what your name was before, THAT’S when the trouble is.)

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        3. Swistle Post author

          I wouldn’t want to risk it either, Brigid. When I donate blood, they ask if I’ve ever donated under another name. I’ve donated under TWO others—neither of which they can find in their data base for some unknown reason. But when I said, “Should I stop mentioning them, then?” they said NO, keep saying them EVERY TIME. So…I do.

          I think I’m too much of a rule-follower to ignore a question that asked if I’d ever been known under another name, if I had been, even if I didn’t think it was relevant. If it were private/secret for some reason, I might look into the actual laws.

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          1. Kelly

            The difference is in Swistle’s example the question is tailored to the specific purpose, she asked the party in question directly the applicability in her case, and it’s not a case where the information would lead to discrimination without cause – if blood has been donated under another name (which there would be no “irrelevant” names – either she donated blood under that name or she didn’t). The issue is when they ask for other names you’ve been known by in general without specifying why or what for – as I described that’s a “slippery slope” question because it could be interpreted different ways and in some cases giving out the name could feed the employer, etc. information directly (such as names changed for one of the reasons I mentioned) or indirectly (such as an online pseudonym) lead to information that is extraneous and may result in a discrimination lawsuit. An example of a fully legally worded question that a job application can ask is “Are any of your work or academic records under another name?” (I won’t ramble on here, but if you do some research on so-called “illegal questions” you’ll run onto the principle of how if you’re asked a question in illegal or taboo form you can answer the “intent” instead.) A sample link on the subject is here:
            http://thehiringsite.careerbuilder.com/2009/09/24/avoiding-illegal-interview-questions/

          2. Kelly

            Another factor to remember is that many forms do not describe in detail the question for the sake of space, but in reality they do not care about names beyond the scope of the context (which is why I suggest asking first, like Swistle did). In cases such as where they contact out the background checking and have to pay a fee for each name searched, you’d in fact be wasting their time and money with an irrelevant name.

        4. Swistle Post author

          If I were asked “Have you ever been known as another name?,” and the answer didn’t compromise my privacy, I would answer it honestly.

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          1. Kelly

            Nothing wrong with that, but what I’m saying is for those whose privacy would be compromised (or open up possible discrimination issues) – e.g. closed adoptions, transsexuals, or even those who want to maintain a private online identity. Even so, you can still be honest by saying “nothing that anything relevant is under” or something similar if true (like I mentioned), or ask the party in question if the issue is relevant or not. (I do not recommend something like checking the “no” box if there is one to the question and outright lying, but rather answering in a manner limited to the relevant scope.)

          2. Kelly

            Also, for Swistle and others who describe themselves as “rule followers”, in discrimination cases courts generally hold that when employers try to seek extraneous information that may lead to a legally-protected status the prospective employee generally does not need to devolve such info unless the employer has a tangible reason for knowing and in the employee’s case would be relevant (in fact any job application that asks for any names you’ve been known by without being specific for job purposes is for those reasons a legal gray-area and would be what’s breaking the rule, not you). Other examples beyond names are if the company asks about your nationality all you have to say is that you’re legally eligible to work in the U.S., or asks about your family (apart from when signing up for insurance) that you can meet the requisite work schedule (they can ask if any relatives work for the company to prevent conflicts of interest).

        5. Kelly

          Here’s an example of someone whose name was changed (actually changed upon adoption and then later back to his birth name), who some were trying to use the “he didn’t disclose all names he was known by” excuse to bring him down while The Powers That Be said he was compliant since nothing tangible was hidden by not disclosing the other name: President of the U.S., Barack Obama. There are “birthers” that try to find any reason why Obama is ineligible to be President, and tried to use the excuse that his name was changed to Barry Soetoro as a child (and back to Barack Obama when he came of age) but never disclosed the Soetoro name in cases like those described here (of course cases like applying for a passport or other business where they need to verify you back to birth are different). In reality it has been held that since he didn’t hide anything relevant in those cases he never broke any laws (and if he did you can bet the GOP would at least file impeachment proceedings against him using that as the reason).

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        6. Kelly

          Now that this side-debate has settled down, I’ll explain my position on the issue. While there are people like the OP Justin, Brigid, and Abby@AppMtn who change their name for personal reasons and who are comfortable with explaining the name change, their are other cases where mentioning the former name would lead to (in many cases legally-protected) discrimination, such as a Muhammed born into a Muslim family who converted out and became Michael, a Hussein who immigrated from the Mideast and became Howard, a Steven who underwent a sex change to become Susan (or vice-versa), or even a Laquisha (a stereotypical black name) who became Laura. Then there are cases where discrimination is not the issue per se, but where someone who was adopted or had some other name change as a child (before any relevant records were established) would legitimately want to not have to explain their (in some cases “illegitimate”) childhood constantly as an adult. Finally, remember that having had a legal name change is not the only way to have been known by another name (“common law” principles allow us to adopt pseudonyms for lawful purposes as long as we are not trying to defraud another party; that’s why many actors/actresses have stage names, many authors write under pen names, and why some of us blog under names other than our “real” name). Once again, pseudonymous names are often used for the purpose of protecting the person’s real identity; revealing them in every situation like those mentioned defeats the purpose and provides no tangible information to be used in the decision process (and if the content is a subject like religion once again opens the door to discrimination suits).

          Remember that if you interpret the question literally as every name you’ve been known by in some context since birth, that means that Swistle’s kids would need to disclose those pseudonyms that she uses to describe her kids online when they become adults and those whose birth certificates originally said something like “Baby” because their parents were indecisive about their name would need to mention “Baby” as another name they’ve used. That’s why among the several career advisors I’ve talked too, they all say that with exceptions such as a security clearance you need only reveal names that your work, school (since high school), criminal, or other relevant records are under.

          In terms of potential lawsuits, although someone like an Amy who became Abigail (using the AppMtn example) would not have standing to contest an employer insisting they provide their former name, someone like one of the discrimination cases in the first paragraph would. Also, the issue becomes moot if there are actually records to be checked under that other name (even if it indicates a protected status); my vouching is to mainly defend those who changed their name either before they got any relevant records or they went back and successfully changed them all over so there wouldn’t be any need to devolve the old name.

          Reply
  20. Jenna

    I was born with a very 70′s/80′s name: Jennifer. On my 21st birthday, I got a legal name change: Jenna.
    For me, I didn’t stray too far from my original name for a few reasons:
    1. My husband was going to call me ‘Jen’; we’d known each other far too long at that point for him to always remember to use a different name.
    2. When I’d run into an old acquaintance while chatting with a new acquaintance, if the old acquaintance used ‘Jennifer’, the new acquaintance assumed that the other person must not have known me very well because they called me by the wrong name.
    3. Relatives were NOT happy about the change, but most of them never realized I got a legal change because they always assumed I just began using a new nickname. Conflict avoided!

    It IS a hassle to change everything from library cards to social security cards, BUT it is worth every bit of paperwork not to be called by a name you hate. (And, yeah, I totally hear your vehemence for your ‘dude name’).
    It also makes sense to alter your first name slightly (Justine, Justina, Justianna etc.) and completely change your middle name if you want something quite different from Justin. Example: Justine Antonia Chapman with the nickname of Anne.
    We’re pulling for you! Please let us know how things turn out for you!

    Reply
  21. Kelly

    Not many people (other than adoptees or transgender people) know this, but in many states you can have your birth certificate amended to reflect a (non-marriage-related) name change. In fact, a transgender woman has made a state-by-state list on what changes can be made and how to do it:
    http://drbecky.com/birthcert.html

    Like I replied to Brigid, whether or not you’ll need to disclose your previous name to employers and the like depends on whether or not anything that might come up in a background check appears under that name (at your age, unless you can go back and have EVERY employer and school since high school update their records to show your new name, and you have NO criminal history before your name change, you most likely will have to mention your old name in such cases).

    Reply
  22. A

    A name change for an adopted person is not usually the same as for someone who chooses to change their name. Adoptees are issued new birth certificates. People who go through the legal name change process for any other reason are not automatically given a new birth certificate. They will have 2 documents-their birth certificate with the original name and a name change certificate. Anyone that requires the birth certificate (DMV, passport, etc) won’t accept just the name change document. One way around the hassle of having to carry around 2 documents is to apply for a passport. Once you have a passport in the new name, the passport can be used in place of the birth certificate, eliminating the need to use the BC and name change document for every little thing.

    Reply
    1. Kelly

      A – Like I mentioned in my post (as you can see if you click on the link), some states will indeed issue a new birth certificate (or note an amendment to it) if you change your name for some other reason (none will of course change it for a marriage-related name change). It depends on where you were born (not where you live now).

      Reply
  23. Gail

    Hello.
    1) I’ve never met a woman named Justin, though I have known one named Devon, Cullen, and Brennan.

    2) I’m a big believer in the “serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know a difference” prayer, and to me, your question falls solidly in the “courage to change the things I can” category. Life is too short to go through it with a name you do not at all like. Yes, parts of the change will be a hassle, but I think most of your friends & acquaintances will have a lot of empathy with your choice. Family might be trickier. I’m not sure I agree with the “ask your parents if there were any other names they nearly chose” idea. They had their chance, they chose, now you are the adult and you get to choose.

    3) I think you should go with your first choice of Jane Emmerson Chapman. You don’t like Justine, Justina isn’t that different, and Justinia might take as much explanation as would Jane. While you say you want a feminine name, some of your choices ring distinctly masculine to me–Grey, Windsor, Hollister, and even Faye–I know a guy named Fay. I agree with others that you should choose a name that would have been in use for girls 25 years ago, not one that you might like to name a daughter now. Though the classics, like Jane, are an exception to this.

    4) I wouldn’t over think the meaning angle. As long as the name doesn’t have an unfortunate or awful meaning, I think you should base your choice on what feels comfortable, feminine, and doable.

    Good luck!

    Reply
  24. Karen

    Could you ever just change the spelling to Justynne or Justyn? I think that would change it to be very feminine?

    Reply
  25. Lashley

    I would look carefully at -why- you really want to change. If, in fact, it is because Justin is too masculine and makes life complicated, choose a name that addresses those issues. I like Jane, Jess, or Elle – you wouldn’t necessarily have to make a legal change, just take on a new nickname. And, unless it’s a job interview or a doctor’s office, I would just introduce yourself as the name you’re going by, “Nice to meet you, I’m Jane,” or swiftly correct someone who knows you as Justin – “I’m actually going by Elle now,” possibly adding “It’s an old nickname and I prefer it to Justin” if someone balks.

    If you’d just rather have a name you like better (even if it’s also unisex and/or not simple), then pick a name you like, but be prepared for some folks to roll their eyes or otherwise not be empathetic.

    Reply
  26. Angela

    I love Jane Emmerson for you. I think you should do it! It’s YOUR name, naysayers be darned! Do what you want! It can’t be that much harder than changing your name after getting married, right? A bit of a pain, but worth it in the end.

    One other option is to add your maiden name in as a second middle name, in case you want to keep some of your “original” game that was given to you at birth.

    Reply
  27. Melody

    I have a friend whose birth name is Justine. She hates it, and has legally changed her name to Juszie (pronounced “Juzzie”). While the spelling may or may not be to your taste, this could be an alternative that eliminates the need for “Justine” whilst still tying in with your known name.

    I do agree with the other commenters who suggest that Windsor, Hollister and Grey sound just as masculine, if not more so, than Justin (to my ears). They are also very “current” names and don’t appear to have as much link to your birth era than other names might.

    Otherwise, I like Swistle’s suggestion of “Julia” or perhaps “Joelle.” I think that choosing a name with some kind of link to your current name – whether than be the starting letter, a derivative of the name or a name with a similar sound – might be a good choice, so that it’s not worlds apart from who you are and the heritage of your name. Even though you dislike your birth name (and fair enough) there is still a history behind the fact that your parents chose it for you, so something like Justine, Justina, Juszie, Elle (for Danielle), Joelle or Julia might be a lovely way to honour that.

    Just my two cents’ worth – good luck, and I’d love to hear how you get on! :)

    Reply
  28. Angie

    I don’t know how old you are, but for what it’s worth, I’m in my 30s and grew up with someone named Joelle (one of Swistle’s suggestions). I like this for you because it is not terribly common on the “mom generation” but is imaginable on that generation. It is a step removed from Justine or Justina, but still similar enough to your given name. Good luck!

    Reply
  29. Justin Gonzales

    Hi Honey!

    You are NOT alone, for my name is Justin, and I am 20 years old, and also female. I know your pain and how hard it is to keep up with everyone criticizing or not understanding your very odd, yet unique name. I’m realizing that it is becoming more difficult as I get older to deal with the reactions and conflicts my name brings on a daily basis, yet that is something beautiful and wonderful. People certainly do not forget me and it does have it’s advantages. I’ve also considered changing my name, but then again, it’s something my parents have always loved and I enjoy being a little different…a boy’s name, yet a pretty face. My family and friends have nicknames for me, like “Justi” or “Just” which I love and adds a little femininity to my life.

    The choice is yours and I do not blame you for considering a name change, but just remember the smile it brings to your face when people are shocked and a bit envious of such a unique, beautiful name; a name that fits with a beautiful you.

    much love, my dear Justin.

    Reply
  30. Britt

    I knew a girl named Justin in school. I always thought it was neat and she was sporty so it suited her well I think. I love the name Grey.

    Reply

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