“I always felt like I was a fraud, like the name didn’t belong to me — it belonged to someone else, and I needed to give it back.”
“Lindsay” was the name given to Silas Hansen by his parents when he was born a girl. It was the name he had answered to for 24 years. But as he writes in a moving essay on Slate,
I have always disliked my birth name—Lindsay Rebecca. I disliked it even in preschool, long before I understood why it didn’t feel like it fit … Over the past two years, I had started to question my gender identity, and though I hadn’t yet admitted what I feared—that I might be transgender—I still hated telling people my name. I wished it was something more androgynous, like Alex, so it wouldn’t give me away so easily, so it didn’t sound quite so feminine. I wished it were something that felt like it belonged to me.
Even though Silas had never felt like his birth name fit, he explains that it was still “jarring” to hear people call him something other than “Lindsay.” He describes his first experience with being called “Silas,” and the near panic it causes him. He says,
I suddenly couldn’t breathe. It felt so not normal to be called Silas instead of Lindsay. I immediately regretted my decision. What if this meant I was wrong about being transgender and I never should have asked people to call me something else? What if I was right, but had chosen the wrong name? Was it too late to send another email, beg everyone to call me Andrew, or Charlie, or Sam? I hadn’t expected it to be so hard—not for me at least, since I had wanted a new name—a male name—for so long, and since Silas felt so perfect in theory.
Eventually however, Silas does get used to his new name, and even his family grows comfortable with his transitioning identity. He writes that he chose the name “Silas” because it means “man of the forest” and he was a Girl Scout for 15 years. He writes that most of his best memories from childhood took place in the woods behind his parents house. He also liked that the name was not “overly masculine” and that it “borders on the land between masculine and feminine.” He says, “”I can carry that name with me as I learn how to be a man, learn to navigate this land of men’s bathrooms and facial hair and talking to girls as a straight man without losing sight of who I am, who I used to be.”