[warning: loooong] I'm looking for opinions and advice on changing my name

Warning, this is very long (over the character limit), and probably pretty dense. I apologize, and I really appreciate anyone who will read it and help me out. I’m reconsidering every part of my name, and although there are easy answers, realistic answers, and answers that I love, I see no answer that is easy, realistic, and satisfactory, and thus am struggling to balance all of the thoughts and feelings I’m having on the matter.

I’m going to change my name, and after frankly too much hunting, I’m starting to narrow things down a bit. At this point I’m not looking for suggestions so much as opinions on a lot of little choices and options. I’m going to mention the presumptive opinions of my family fairly often; although I wish I could discuss these things with them, I can’t, in part because of the reason I’m changing my name, and in part because they’re very much the sort of people to feel spited if they advise me to do something and I end up doing something else. But my family is important to me, and just ignoring how they’d feel about different routes I could take doesn’t feel right to me.

So I’m changing at least my first and middle name, maybe my last as well. I live in the Southeastern US. I’ll start by trying to break down the options I’ve narrowed down to for my last name.


Cut out all the details just to get the word count down. I am, at this point, pretty fond of the hyphenating option, making my last name Anderson-L________.


My current middle name is the name of a deceased relative. It also starts with L. Although I love using the middle name slot to honor family, for reasons relating to why I’m changing my name in the first place, I can’t really keep the one I currently have. My biggest issue with the middle name is whether or not I should use the slot for a name with some sort of meaning or for a name that I love.

OPTION 1–[name_f]Honor[/name_f] a different relative

My current middle name is the name of a deceased sibling of my mother who died in childhood. My mother’s father’s name, [name_m]Lloyd[/name_m], starts with the same letter, still honors someone important to my mom, and it’s someone I actually knew and also feel connected to. But I don’t really like the name [name_m]Lloyd[/name_m].

OPTION 2–Keep the initial but use a (kind of) random name

When I first realized I needed to change my name, I started using the name [name_m]Levi[/name_m]. I pretty quickly decided it wasn’t the right name for me, but it’s still very entrenched for me, in some ways moreso than my given first name. It feels weird to drop it completely even though I don’t really like it, so putting it in the middle name slot would keep it and keep the same initial so that I’m not completely abandoning the honoring aspect.

OPTION 3–Change it to something completely different

I could obviously just ignore the initial and the honoring aspect and use it for a name that I love but don’t feel I can use in the first name slot, or if I can’t entirely decide between two names use one as first and one as middle to keep both as options. Tadhg, one of my first name favorites, would probably be my choice if I did this, since I love it so gosh dang much but am not really comfortable using it as a first.


One concern I’ve had with my first name is that my siblings and I (there are five of us) all have the same first initial. But it’s a terrible letter with basically zero good names. The only way I could think to have a chance of being happy with a name and using that initial would be 1. using the forms of names common in cultures that I have no close connection to (which, really, I wouldn’t be happy doing), or 2. using pretty obscure place names (there were actually a few I liked, but they just felt sort of silly to actually try to use.) Luckily, I think I have been freed from the ‘‘use that letter’’ obligation. I am also more concerned with the opinions of my friends and strangers in regards to my first name just because at this point I’m not really planning on having my immediate family call me something new. They’ll probably continue to call me what they always have. Frankly I could just ignore my family’s feelings on the matter entirely and bypass the criticism by never telling them I changed it, but that feels dishonest and exhausting. So the names I am most strongly considering are:

Removed Anderson to cut down length

Shaughnessy–my dad’s middle name that I like a lot. My dad wanted my brother to be a junior but my mom didn’t like it, so my brother has my dad’s first name as his middle. Taking Shaughnessy into my name somehow might be nice and would in a way connect me to my brother, although I wouldn’t want to shorten it the Shaughn/Sean or anything.

[name_u]Rory[/name_u]–I kind of love the name [name_u]Rory[/name_u]. And by that I mean I definitely love it. What I don’t love is the way it’s trending unisex, the fact that it rhymes with my twin brother’s name, the fact that I already have a friend who changed his name to [name_u]Rory[/name_u] (I’m not so much friends with him anymore, but that still just feels really weird considering how close I am to some of our mutual friends; this is probably my biggest hesitation, especially because I’ll admit I’d never considered the name [name_u]Rory[/name_u] until he started using it), [name_u]Rory[/name_u] sounds weird with my last name (not a terribly big deal but something I have taken note of), and the fact that pretty much every time I see a discussion on the name [name_u]Rory[/name_u] I see the sentiment expressed that Rorys should be redheads. While I recognize that [name_u]Rory[/name_u] from [name_m]Gilmore[/name_m] Girls and [name_u]Rory[/name_u] from [name_m]Doctor[/name_m] Who are not redheads, and I’ve never really seen the same standard held up for other names with color-related meanings, I have heard the sentiment expressed too often to be able to really shrug it off. Especially because the rest of my family does have varying shades of red hair, and the fact that I’m the odd blond out has been sort of a person sore spot for a while, so using a name connected to red hair feels… weird. Oh, and my friend who changed his name to [name_u]Rory[/name_u] is a redhead.

Continued in comments.

[name_m]Tadhg[/name_m]–pronounced like the first syllable of tiger. I recognize that I will forever be having to correct spelling and pronunciation, but I don’t really mind it with this name both because there’s not really and easier alternative spelling and because I just love this name so dang much. It is miles ahead of every other name for me. I wish I felt as strongly about an easier name as I do about [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m]. There’s just no use in pretending that this name isn’t easily my favorite name ever. But it also feels… wrong. [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] has a very long and colorful history of being used as a slur against the Irish. It has religious connotations, and can have political ones as well. And while I recognize that a lot of that has faded and it’s a very popular name in [name_f]Ireland[/name_f]… I’m not Irish. I’m just not. I’m American. My grandparents were Irish, but they were my dad’s parents. The only connections I have to them are a shared last name (that they originally spelled differently!) and a shared religion. I don’t even know their first names. I’m just not Irish enough to be [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m]. It’s wrong. It feels wrong to me.

There are other names I like, some Irish names (Dáithí, [name_m]Cathal[/name_m], [name_m]Domhnall[/name_m], and [name_u]Darragh[/name_u] on the Gaelic end, [name_u]Reilly[/name_u], [name_m]Cormac[/name_m], and [name_u]Tierney[/name_u] on the anglicized end), some not ([name_u]Raleigh[/name_u], [name_m]Thomas[/name_m], [name_m]Gerard[/name_m], and [name_m]Clement[/name_m] to name a few), but they all have their own drawbacks.

One option that seems the best but I don’t love would be [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] L. [name_f]Honor[/name_f] mom’s family? Check. Easy to spell easy to pronounce first name? Check. Include [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m], thus giving me the opportunity to use it in the brief situations I might feel comfortable? Check. Doesn’t upset dad with the last name? Check. Maintains ties ti immediate family? Check. And as a bonus, my initials would be ATL, which I like because I lived in [name_f]Atlanta[/name_f] my entire teenage years and it’s an important city to me (although the monogram, which is realistically more important for me, would be ALT.) But I just… I’m not sold on [name_m]Anderson[/name_m], I’m not sold on keeping my last name as is, and I’m not sold on abandoning the honoring aspect of my middle name.


Opinions on whether or not I should bother to change my last name, and if I should which option seems best to you.

Opinions on which option seems best on my middle name.

Opinions on the first names I’ve mentioned. If you’re not sold on any of them, I am open to suggestions, I just feel like I’ve seen every name in existence at this point.


“[name_m]Just[/name_m] go with what you love!” This just feels unrealistic to me based on my priorities. Obviously I don’t want to settle for a name I don’t like, but I just can’t be comfortable with a name knowing it’s netting me a lot of disapproval.

“Talk to your family/friends.” As previously mentioned, involving my family in this will just end with a lot of hard feelings, both mine and theirs, and my friends have been there for me through all the hunting and debates leading up to this; they’re frankly tired of it, and I feel like I need more outside input anyway.

“You have to decide this for yourself.” I’m aware, and I will. But I need advice. I need opinions. I’m trapped inside my own head with this and I need outside help. I need guidance.

“Go to starbucks/look at the SSA list/use names with friends/etc.” This is all great advice for people just starting to look for a name, but I’m much further along in this decision than that. I recognize the spelling issues with my names and already know how I feel about it after more than 20 years of having a first, middle, and especially last name that people have struggled to spell. I recognize what’s difficult, and I recognize how that affects me. I’ve been through the SSA list for the year I was born and other years in the same decade, but found them very uninspired. I don’t just want to pick from am list. I have used names with friends in the past, but it gets very tiring for them to have to switch names for me. At this point most call me either [name_m]Levi[/name_m] or [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m], and I don’t want to drive them away by having them keep switching it up just so I can get a feel for lots of names.

Ultimately, though I’m committed to changing my name, I have dug myself into a deep hole of overthinking. I feel exhausted and lost and really seriously appreciate any and all opinions, advice, and guidance. Thanks in advance.

I think unless something severely drastic/cataclysmic happened by your dad or his side of the family I would keep your last name the same. If you want to change your name the first and middle can be fair game there. Have you considered [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] as the middle name instead of the L names? Still honoring your moms family and using a name she thought to use later on. If you want to stay away from hard to pronounce and spell I wouldn’t go with [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m], when I read it I was trying to figure it out (is it just [name_m]Tad[/name_m] with extra letters? Is it like tad-ge?). Hopefully this helps.

As for middle names:

I understand wanting to put [name_m]Levi[/name_m] as a middle name. When I had to change my first name, I went through several before finally coming to one. [name_m]Dante[/name_m] is what my friends called me for months, and even though I didn’t really like it and felt it “wasn’t me”, it stuck and I feel a connection to it. So I considered moving it to the middle and changing middle name too. (But I liked my middle names as it is now, so I never changed it).

If you really want to change your middle name too, I’d make it [name_m]Levi[/name_m]. Since you said it keeps with the honour. Personally I like the sound of [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] [name_m]Levi[/name_m].

Good luck. I understand how frustrating it can be. A lot of people seem to think it’d be fun to choose your own names. But I always tell them it isn’t, especially if you’re indecisive.

I’ll be honest. Unless someone has been through a tragic situation, or your name is horrific to the point of troublesome, I am anti name change. Your parents named you and put a lot of love and thought into it. I just don’t see the point. Save your favorite names for your kids. A change is going to be unbelievably complicated in both education and professional realms. [name_m]How[/name_m] odd is it going to be for friends and family to start calling you a new name. I say shelve the idea and come back to it later.


I don’t think he is looking for opinion on whether or not change his name. [name_m]Just[/name_m] opinion on what it should be. He’s already made up his mind, and for whatever reason (tragic or not) it’s what he’s chosen.

As for it being odd for people calling us by a different name… it really isn’t. They may get it wrong the first couple of times and I can understand that. But my friends and the staff at university caught on extremely quick. Over time, youg get used to it. The other people I know who have changed theirs…you get so used to it that you can’t even picture them with their old name anymore.

I love [name_u]Rory[/name_u] as a first name and [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] as a last name but I think unless that person was horrific you should keep your middle name. I feel like it’s offensive to that persons memory to change it unless there is good reason.

@boyandgirl and wittyusername103

I’m changing my name because I’m transgender. Both my first and middle name are very feminine, so keeping them is really not an option.


I considered the potential of [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] L. I never considered that [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] in the middle name slot would fulfill the honoring aspect; thanks for pointing that out! As for [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m], the spelling/ pronunciation issues don’t bother me. In part because I just love it so much, in part because every part of my current name gets misspelled pretty regularly so I’m used to it. It mostly bothers me with my current last name because it’s unnecessary. It’s difficult to spell and pronounce because it’s spelled wrong; [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] isn’t.

If you’re changing your name because you’re transgender it might’ve been more helpful to say so to begin with, since that’s a very valid reason for doing a name change (although the comments about changing your last name would still stand) and a lot of people on here are against frivolous name changes. In some cases the legal aspects of a transgender-related name change may also be a bit different than with general name changes (especially where those in charge acknowledge the sensitive issues with a transgender person’s original name floating around).

Sorry I didn’t think I needed to out myself to get advice for a name change. I came here looking for guidance on the names, not for judgement on my choice to change my name. [name_m]Even[/name_m] if I was doing it for a frivolous reason, that doesn’t seem to me to be fair reason to give me unwanted advice not to do something I’ve already decided to do. It just seems unnecessary and rude to me that I have to out myself in order to get the input I wanted and not just judgement on my decision to make the change. This is a name forum, and all I wanted was input on the names.

Oh okay I didn’t realise that sorry. [name_f]Hope[/name_f] you find the perfect name.

Firstly, I’d like to mention that changing names really isn’t as complicated (in the area of friends and family finding it weird) as you think. One of my close friends has flittered between two different names for years, one that is official on school documents and such, and another that her whole family call her. When she finally chose one over the other, the adjustment for me, as one of her friends, wasn’t an issue at all.

Personally, I would keep the last name because heritage is very important to me. Have you considered using [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] as a second last name, or a second middle name? That way would would be _ [name_m]Levi[/name_m] [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] L and you could choose a first name you love, knowing that all the family obligation stuff has been fulfilled. If you really want to change your last name, I would just make it easier to spell.

I really do love the idea of including your mothers last name in your name, because when my parents divorced it meant a lot to my mum when I offered to do that to mine, especially since I’m much closer to my mothers family than my fathers. I would definitely use [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] as a middle name if I was in your position, but I wouldn’t use it as a first unless I loved it enough that being called ‘[name_u]Andy[/name_u]’ or ‘[name_m]Anders[/name_m]’ was fine as well.

I would spell [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] as [name_u]Tai[/name_u], especially if your last name is already complicated. I love [name_u]Rory[/name_u] the most out of your options, though, it seems like such a fun first name. It could even be a nickname for [name_m]Anderson[/name_m], if you really pushed it, and that would sort of help with your friend also changing their name to [name_u]Rory[/name_u].

In short, my personal opinion is that you should keep your last name or, if it’s really unbearable change it to an easier spelt version. I would definitely include [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] as a middle name, and maybe use an L name as a first name ([name_m]Levi[/name_m] [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] would be cool). If you’re set on an L middle name, [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] nickname [name_u]Rory[/name_u] could also work. Good luck!

I changed my entire name… first, middle, and last. I can honestly say although the new first name was a little hard for people at first, it was worth it. I am not transgender but my name did not suit me. I would recommend changing your last name as well because this is a once in a lifetime event and I wouldn’t advise keeping any part of your name because you feel obligated to do so.

Now, as for the names themselves…

You are working with some great stuff here… I love [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] as a surname. Clean, simple but long enough to be substantial. You might see the occasional [name_m]Andersen[/name_m] spelling, but that should be rare. Also, I love that it honors your mom.

Shaughnessy is wonderful. One of my favorite surnames. I’m Irish and would have used it in a heartbeat, had it belonged to anyone in my family. However, for most people, they will be at a loss as how to spell or pronounce it. Sad, but true. I would give it consideration as a middle as in ____ Shaughnessy [name_m]Anderson[/name_m]. That way you have honored your mom and dad and still give yourself the first name slot to honor what YOU want.

Personally, I am not a fan of [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m]. It’s just too unusual in my opinion. But, if YOU like it, then you should use it. I also like the idea of using [name_u]Shaun[/name_u] or [name_m]Shaughn[/name_m] instead of Shaughnessy. So here are my final suggestions:

[name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] Shaughnessy [name_m]Anderson[/name_m]
[name_m]Shaughn[/name_m] [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] [name_m]Anderson[/name_m]
[name_u]Shaun[/name_u] [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] (probably my fave)

I would not suggest [name_u]Rory[/name_u] if for no other reason that it rhymes with your twin’s name. That’s reason enough for me.

Please let us know what you decide to do. I found this thread very interesting.

Good [name_m]Luck[/name_m]

No problem, OP. I’m not as harsh as a lot of the other members here (in fact you can read this post of mine about what sometimes goes on when the subject of name changing is discussed).

If you change it all I like [name_u]Rory[/name_u] [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] Shaughnessy. Sounds cohesive, although it does lose the connection to your mom. I personally share your concerns with the name [name_u]Rory[/name_u] though, so I think [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] L is a nice name that meets all your criteria in some way. Personally I like [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] better than [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] but I understand the concerns with [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] and I think the ATL initials are really cool. Best of luck!

Last name: In order to avoid alienating yourself from your father or immediate family, I would change your last name to a more common and pronounceable spelling.

Would you consider using [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] as a middle? You’ve talked about using it as a first and a surname. You could more freely use the -ss- spelling as well. It would honor the side of the family you’re more close to, and your mother likes it.

As for first names, I do quite like [name_u]Rory[/name_u] although I do understand that it could be a bit problematic. [name_m]Cormac[/name_m] was a name you said had drawbacks although I like that as well. Maybe you’d be willing to consider: [name_u]Corbin[/name_u], [name_m]Ronan[/name_m], [name_m]Declan[/name_m], [name_u]Tiernan[/name_u], [name_u]Niall[/name_u], [name_m]Graham[/name_m], [name_u]Keenan[/name_u], [name_m]William[/name_m], [name_u]Finley[/name_u], [name_m]Vaughn[/name_m].

Best of luck! I hope you find the perfect name :slight_smile:


I never even considered [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] as a second last name. I could hyphenate it with L. That actually sounds like a really great compromise that makes me feel a lot better about all of this. Also, sorry if I didn’t make it clear–[name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] is pronounced like the tig- part or tiger, not just the ti- part.


I do love [name_m]Cormac[/name_m] but the drawback is basically the same as [name_u]Rory[/name_u] except reversed: without saying exactly what my brother’s name is (though it should be fairly obvious), [name_u]Rory[/name_u] has the same ending and [name_m]Cormac[/name_m] has the same beginning (and ends similar to how his middle name begins.) I go back and forth on [name_u]Niall[/name_u]; sometimes I quite like it, sometimes it just doesn’t feel like me, but even when I like it I just don’t feel as strongly about it as I’d like to.

Thanks all for the input and well-wishes!

While I think the compromise of a hyphenated last name (([name_m]Anderson[/name_m]-L) would work, please know that a shared last name is not what binds a family. In my birth family with three married daughters and a son, we now have 4 different last names. Our shared history and mutual affection are the ties that bind us. The surnames are irrelevant even to the next generation who are well attached. In your situation, I would just avoid a surname choice that appears you are siding with one parent over the other.

As for your first name, my general recommendation is to choose a name that you like and feel will fit you now and at all your future stages in life. If I were you, I would rule [name_u]Rory[/name_u] because of your brothers rhyming name and your friends adoption of the name. [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] is great choice and if that is the name that suits you, choose it without hesitation.

[name_m]Levi[/name_m] makes for a great middle name, keeps you the honor initial and, I think, is a nod of respect for your journey.

I agree with paw that surnames do not necessarily bind families, and that if you must change it, you should simply go with something that doesn’t seem like you are choosing a side in your parents’ divorce. I wouldn’t change the spelling, though; I think that’s a little more trouble than it’s worth, and you’re already accustomed to explaining the spelling/pronunciation.

I do not think that leaving your surname alone would denote choosing a side, though, and sometimes the best choice is to make no choice. Your first and middle names do not harmonize with your life, but your last name has actually helped shape your personality and your taste - always correcting spelling, explaining it to strangers, and a vague connection to Gaelic/Irish names - and I think that’s worth keeping.

Personally, I would simply leave your last name the way it is and use Anderson as a middle or second middle.
Anderson honors your mother’s family, so you wouldn’t have to worry about dropping your previous middle name and losing that connection. I don’t think hyphenating to Anderson-L___ would be a terrible idea, either, but it seems cleaner and easier to use Anderson as a middle. Plus, it’s handsome.

The only reason I don’t like any of the first names you presented is because you don’t seem to really love any of them. None of them feel right, and because you’ve gone by a few different names, it’s probably more confusing to figure out what feels solid.

Cormac, Rory, Tadhg, and Thomas make me think of Kiernan/Kieran, Collum, Colin, Derek, Duncan, Kellen, and Sean (or Shaun for Shaughnessy?). I think Kieran Anderson L___ or Derek Anderson L___ would be my first choices for you, then maybe Duncan or Sean.

If I were in your situation, I would not change the last name for [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] or something completely different, because I would have the feeling to not be a part of the family anymore (especially because you are already changing the first letter of your name and breaking the “link” with your brothers and sisters). You can change the spelling if it reallyyy bothers you to spell it everytime, but I would not do it either because afterall it is not a big deal (but I understand your frustration, I have to spell and repeat my first name everyday).

As you feel very close/connected to your mom’s side and want to honor them, I would definitely pick [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] as a first or middle name. My choice would be first name because 1) [name_u]Rory[/name_u] is a unisex name and I guess you would prefer a masculine name? 2) [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] is difficult to pronounce and write (I had to check 3 times for the spelling and I don’t know how to pronounce it), and it’s already something you don’t like about your lastname.

I don’t know if I would change the L. name because if your mom chose it, it’s probably for a good reason? Maybe just pick a masculine version of the name?

You seem to like [name_u]Rory[/name_u] and [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m], which one do you prefer?

I would go with:

  • [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] [name_u]Rory[/name_u] L. (Masculine version) YOUR LASTNAME
  • [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] [name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] L. (Masculine version) YOUR LASTNAME

Have you considered using two lastnames? [name_m]How[/name_m] many names would you like? You can still go with [name_m]Anderson[/name_m] [name_u]Rory[/name_u]-[name_m]Tadhg[/name_m] L.