Last week, a coworker asked me why I chose Natalie to be my name. This question came out of the blue, he has worked with me since before I transitioned and has never asked any questions about it before. Despite the suddenness, he had clearly been thinking about this. He explained to me that most people don’t get to choose their own name so he wanted to know how I had decided upon it and what meaning it held. Unfortunately, my answer was incredibly anti-climactic. My name doesn’t have any deeper meaning attached. I just liked it.
My current name was not my first choice, in fact, it wasn’t my second or third either. My first choice for a name was Alexis and that was my choice before I even knew I was trans. During my sophomore year of college, over 3 years before I realized I was trans, I told my then-roommate (now best friend) that if I was a girl I would want my name to be Alexis. He reminded me of that conversation when I came out to him to explain his lack of surprise. In college, I became close friends with someone named Alexis. After that, choosing that name just felt wrong. I went through a couple of names after that but none of them ever felt right. That is until Natalie.
I wish that Natalie had some deep meaning or backstory behind it, but it doesn’t. It came from my final fantasy XIV character. I started playing in my senior year of college while I was still questioning. I chose to make my character a woman (because of course I did) and needed a name and so I picked Natalie. Admittedly, I agonized over this decision. I probably spent over an hour deciding, but it was just for a game. Except it became more than that. The game allowed me virtual gender expression and experimentation at a time when real gender expression risked violence. Eventually, the name I selected for a game character became my name. Even after I stopped playing final fantasy XIV, I remained attached to the name. It stayed my name for 2 years pre-transition and the entirety of my transition until it became my legal name.