The dead name

I was born nearly 59 years ago. My parents named me Charles, the same name as my maternal grandfather.

I’ve never been comfortable with “Charles.” To me, “Charles” was a name for rich people, upper-crust snobs who look down on everyone else. That wasn’t me. Charles was also a name that, in grade school, was easy to tease and taunt. And I was already in a toxic family home life, I didn’t need the additional mental abuse at school or in the neighborhood.

Eventually I chose to refer to myself as Chuck. It was less formal, more colloquial. I was more comfortable with it. Unfortunately, you can’t just use “Chuck” on all your legal documents. Even today, when I get calls from my doctor asking to speak to “Charles,” it still makes me cringe.

There’s also an issue where I’ve essentially divorced myself from my family. My parents are dead, as well as both pairs of step-parents. In fact, I only recently found out that one of my cousins passed away – and, in true familial fashion, I found out MONTHS after he died. And when I asked a family member about why I was not told or informed of his passing, the response was, “Well, we didn’t think you would care about it.”

Realistically – that was the final straw.

A few weeks ago, I began the process. I filled out all the paperwork. I filed documents with the Albany County Clerk. A judge signed those same documents. I then turned around and filed paperwork with the Social Security Administration.

That’s right. I did what every woman who ever had to give up her “maiden name” did. I did what every trans person has done in their life, cutting loose their “dead name.”

Yesterday … the paperwork from Social Security arrived.

I am now officially Chuck Miller. Not Charles Miller. Not Charlie or Chaz or Chick or any of that.

I’m just Chuck. Chuck Miller.

What will this now mean for me? New driver’s license, new insurance information, new medical card, new players card at the casinos, all of that. And I’m sure my 2022 tax forms will be an adventure in and of itself.

Some people might have a problem with this. “Why would you go through all the hassle of changing your name? Don’t you have a kinship towards your heritage? Doesn’t that matter to you? Why would you turn your back on the things that made you?”

It doesn’t matter any more. As far as I’m concerned, I’m Chuck. I’ve honestly designated myself as Chuck for ages.

At this point … now it’s a legal designation.

If someone gets married and drops their maiden name, you don’t continue to call them by that maiden name, do you? If someone transitions, you don’t continue to use their previous surname, do you?

No? Good. We’re on the same page here.

So … hi. Welcome to my blog. My name’s Chuck Miller.

And this time … Chuck Miller is my official name.

Are we good?

Yeah, we’re good.