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My Recent Blog Comments
February 6, 2016 07:10 AM
In Response to Name Changing

You can, but you may have to go through the courts with the legal name change process. Many states will not let you drop your first name with just the marriage license (the changes you can usually do that way are drop your maiden last name to be replaced with your married one, add to or replace your middle name with your maiden name, or hyphenate your last name). Unless you live and get married in a state that allows for any kind of name change at marriage you won't be able to save yourself from having to go to and pay for court (but by doing it at the same time as when you get married you'll still save yourself a second round of document changes).

December 12, 2015 04:04 PM

@xtinamarie - For a modern girl those names would indeed be unique among her peers!

November 24, 2015 01:54 PM

@Aiea - Bernie might be a good candidate for NOTY next year if he does end up getting the Democratic nomination, but let's not jump the gun and make the same mistake we did with Barack in 2007 (precluding it for being in the running for 2008 when the name was more prominent).

November 23, 2015 06:31 AM

@nicwoo - What do you mean Caitlyn was considered last year? Jenner didn't reveal that as her chosen name until this year.

November 22, 2015 07:59 AM

I nominate Caitlyn too - as an activist for the transgender community Jenner's transition has helped raise awareness of their issues to the general public.

October 24, 2015 06:50 AM

Actually what you said about SSNs is not quite true. The part about the middle number set is incorrect - those numbers are assigned using a particular formula from each set of first-block numbers (and have nothing to do with the date of birth - if that were true no one would have middle numbers greater than 31). You're only loosely correct about the first numbers - more accurately they're based on where you lived when the SSN was obtained (while for those born since SSNs were necessary to claim a tax exemption for the child it's most likely where they were born too unless they're immigrants or had some special reason for getting a new number, for those older it may not be if they've moved since birth). (That change in the typical logistics of when you got your SSN is also responsible for some of the artifcats on the name popularity lists.)

ETA: I look at the most recent rules on how SSNs are assigned, and numbers are no longer assigned based on geography, so for numbers obtained since that change the first block does not indicate anything.

October 8, 2015 09:55 AM

The main issue that I'd see with changing your whole name at the same time (as opposed to only your first/middle or last name but not both) is if you're in a situation where the courts may be suspicious that you may be trying to defraud others by changing your entire name (e.g. deep in debt, have a criminal history, etc.) - on the other hand changing one at a time but doing two name changes a short amount of time apart would be just as suspicious. If your background is clean and you've got a legitimate reason (even if it's just personal) for your name change you should be okay.

September 5, 2015 09:00 AM

@TheOtherHungarian - You're right about Martha, which started declining after about 1940 (unlike Denise whose decline began in about 1965, so Martha is basically a full generation removed from Denise). I think what Laura Wattenberg was trying to get across was the "zone of avoidance" for pet names (and "fashionable" names in general) is about two generations - the names popular on those of childbearing age right now (e.g. the ~'80s names that have declined a lot in pet name popularity) and their parents (e.g. Denise). The "quirky" names (e.g. Martha) are those from the generation of today's new great-grandparents (or the grandparents of today's new parents), and another generation of separation is when we can expect a name to become "mainstream" again (like what has been mentioned in BNW and on this blog before).

September 2, 2015 07:33 AM

#McHobbit - If I understand correctly the SSA doesn't recognize hyphens and just "smoosh" the two parts of the name together, so that's probably why no hyphenated names appear on the U.S. lists.

August 20, 2015 06:59 AM

I've heard Melissa/Michelle mix-ups before, probably because they both start with "M"* and peaked in popularity around the same time. *Same thing with Rachel and Rebecca both starting with "R" (with both being Biblical names as the other tie).

July 29, 2015 08:22 PM
In Response to Names on resumés

Thanks for clarifying about your location/nationality! (Whenever I see words spelled the "British" way I usually see that as a clue that the poster is not from the U.S.) As for my comment, another alternative in the "sensitive" cases where you don't want to "out" yourself but also don't want to act like you overlooked or lied about the question (that I also suggested to the transgender people I described) is to put down "none that are relevant" or something similar if true in your case (of course if there is something that they can and may want to check under your former name you basically don't have a choice).

July 29, 2015 08:13 AM
In Response to Names on resumés

One thing I do want to point out about the "other names you've used or been known by" question - for people who've had a "sensitive" name change who may not want to disclose the former name (the converse of what you're saying), when it's a private entity protected by anti-discrimination laws, they usually care only about names used in the context of what they'd be checking. For example, if you were adopted as a child, you do not need to disclose the name you were originally given at birth for most job or loan applications (as seen at the link below - broken up so it doesn't register as spam).

http: (two slashes) www (dot) askamanager (dot) org/2013/03/short-answer-sunday-7-short-answers-to-7-short-questions-32.html

In cases like a transgender person (as I've worked with several of them) or someone who legally changed their name for reasons described in the OP of this discussion, it depends on whether or not the employer, etc. needs to know it to verify your work/school/criminal/etc. history properly. Often times for a background check you can ask that you give the sensitive information straight to whoever is running the check.

Sorry if this is a bit OT, but I'm posting this for example someone contemplating changing an already-born child's name, and they ask if they make the change if they'd have to list the original name in cases like these when they're older. In the aforementioned cases the answer is (for the most part) no. Of course for example if you're applying for a passport or a visa from a government it's different, or getting a job that requires a security clearance, but employers, banks, etc. typically have no need to know a name changed before you were old enough to have any "adult" records.

ETA: I looked at your profile, and I saw you refer to yourself as "mum" - my comments are geared towards those in the U.S., so where you live it may be different. Often in these cases here the question is worded so as to only ascertain those names within the scope of their interest (e.g. other names you have "obtained credit under" for a loan application instead of the more general wording).

May 14, 2015 07:41 AM

He's transgender (female-to-male) and looking for a more masculine name.

May 8, 2015 10:23 AM

I was partially wrong about Taylor - the gender ratio widened again with 3,782 girls and 691 boys for 5.47 girls per boy (but still narrower than it was in 2012). Still it probably wouldn't make a "fastset falling" list for boys.

April 27, 2015 02:09 PM

Laura, I did base that on the gender ratio. I'll play the numbers using the recent SSA data for Taylor:

2013 - 4,108 girls and 818 boys = 5.02 girls per boy

2012 - 4,847 girls and 882 boys = 5.50 girls per boy

2011 - 5,184 girls and 896 boys = 5.79 girls per boy

2010 - 5,886 girls and 951 boys = 6.19 girls per boy

2009 - 7,575 girls and 1,092 boys = 6.94 girls per boy

Notice how after each year the ratio does narrow - so it looks like I'm right.

Or to put it another way between 2009 and 2013 Taylor dropped by 46% for girls but only 25% for boys.

I do think that Taylor for boys will keep dropping like you said, but will drop at a faster rate for girls like the numbers above demonstrate.

April 27, 2015 10:19 AM

I don't think Taylor would be the top pick for falling-fast-on-boys-due-to-usage-on-girls, since now that it's past peak for both genders the ratio is actually narrowing with a larger drop on girls (this has also happened with Kelly and Robin for example - falling for both genders but more so for girls). Your point mainly applies to names near their overall peak (Harper or Riley would probably be a better example) - once the name becomes "dated" the gap tends to narrow if once more popular for girls by attrition.

March 26, 2015 03:09 PM

It depends on the child's age and the state's policy. In some states you can get a completely new BC without any mention of the changes, in others they'll add a note or an attachment reflecting the change, and in a few they won't make any BC changes barring special circumstances. (If the reason for the change is something like an adoption or a gender change it's more likely but not certain they'd issue a new certificate without the past data.)

February 26, 2015 12:50 PM
In Response to Baby Name or Typo?

A source of typos that skews the stats is gender misrecording, which is why you see for example Jennifer and John appearing in the wrong gender's Top 1,000 (back before everything was computerized and error was thus more common the most common names often had enough errors to cause that). That's why as an example although you probably don't know any real-life boys named Sue the stats show some boy Susans out there.

February 6, 2015 06:37 AM

@HungarianNameGeek: The reason I commented as such was that it seemed like from your last post that you'd consider any name other than the one on the person's birth certificate not to be a "real" name. Since you clarified I now understand. I also brought up the issue of birth certificate amendments because in some legal contexts even one's "birth name" is not fixed at birth (for instance they generally want the mother to be listed under her "maiden" name on her children's birth certificates - if her name was changed for a reason that amended, or in some cases could amend, her birth certificate then they want the name after, and not before, the name change). (A BC amendment essentially means the information was deemed to be incorrect and should be changed in the same way if they got for example the date or place of birth wrong, hence the distinction from for example a marriage-based name change in which the maiden name remains as such. I think in most cases of stage-becoming-legal name changes the BC wouldn't be changed though.)

A fair example of how "stage" names should be treated is Wikipedia's page of stars who assumed such names - one is listed there only if the reason for the name change was for one's profession (and some "gray area" cases like Miley Cyrus). If you go by a different name or changed your name for another reason (e.g. adoption, marriage, gender change, you go by a "standard" nickname or your middle name, etc.) that doesn't count. In the Bob Dylan case, since he (probably) wouldn't be known as such were it not for his music career, your reasoning is valid (but it wouldn't be if for example you said Chaz Bono's name was just his stage name). The same logic applies to what I touched above on how a parent's name gets listed on the child's BC - what the parent's name would be absent any name changes from marriage.

February 5, 2015 02:45 PM

@HungarianNameGeek - In some cases a legal name change DOES amend the birth certificate (at least in the U.S.; in Hungary it may be different). This frequently occurs with adoptions and transgender people (and with the latter you better dare not call the name they chose to match their gender identity a "non-real" name). It can happen with name changes for certain other (non-marriage-related) reasons as well.

Since Bob Dylan's children have been given the Dylan surname I side with Floriography that in his case it's more than just a stage name or pseudonym (now it would be different if his family in private life still used his original surname). Like Floriography said, would you consider a woman's married name, or for another example if you're the child of a parent who had namer's remorse their second and ultimate name choice for you, a "non-real" name?