Changing names as high schoolers

Names can be badges of identity, though some are not currently satisfied with their labels. Changing their names would be a step to evolving into whole new people. 

To legally change a name, a petition of Change in Name must be filed in the district court along with a fee. The age limit is 16 to legally change your name, but many recommend that 18 is a more appropriate age. However, some people have simply asked those around to use a preferred replacement name while they retire their legal names and use them only for official documentation matters or birthdays. 

Junior Charlie VanHooreweghe decided this year to go by the name Charlie rather than their birth name. “I chose to go by a different name because I figured out I identify as nonbinary. Changing my name for this case is very common in the trans community because it helps us feel more like ourselves and valid in our gender,” VanHooreweghe says. 

Many parents put lots of thought into their children’s names, VanHooreweghe’s parents want the best for them and are encouraging the name change. VanHooreweghe says that, “I haven’t specifically told them. My mom found out a little bit ago, and she doesn’t seem to mind. I know that they love and support my choices.”

VanHooreweghe says getting used to the new name is a challenge. “I am still definitely adapting to my new name. Not everybody calls me it yet. Like I said, it’s very hard to come out. A lot of people don’t understand or don’t want to.” 

VanHooreweghe has always felt that their birth name didn’t seem like them, instead the name Charlie is near perfect. “I like my new name for the most part. In a lot of ways it makes me feel more like me. I never disliked my real name but didn’t identify with it as much as I think others do.” They say “I chose it because I’m nonbinary, and Lucy is not a very gender neutral name. I decided to start trying out a different name in late May with friends, and started using it more publicly this school year. I’m still slowly working on this.”

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