Came across this story via Twitter.
Funny how Asian names seem to cause westerners the most angst. I guess most of it comes down to the tradition of the surname going first. Plus, apart from the Japanese (and Vietnamese?) names are all single syllable, and sound (at least to me, probably not seasoned Asians) very androgynous.
The media especially struggle a lot to get it right. Usually you’ll see someone Asian referred to by two or three different forms. I remember one case where a little girl in Albany was kidnapped. They called her – at various stages as the story unfolded – Cina Ma and Xin Xin Ma. I can’t remember which was actually correct, but the cops somehow effed up early on and got her name down as something totally different to what it was (Cina and Xin Xin are miles apart!)
My legal name is Chinese. Nobody calls me by it. I go by my given name, but when it comes to filling out forms and legalese, I have to put down my birth name. Like on my driver’s licence. It’s annoying, because I don’t feel it represents me. I can’t even have my name alongside in brackets or anything. (Rock on AUT. They let you go by your preferred name and print that on your ID card for all purposes).
My first time sitting a driving test was not a pleasant experience. I was sitting in the waiting room with a bunch of other people. Most everyone else got called up and went off with their instructors. Then this big, red faced, grumpy old man came out. I thought “oh no, I SO DON’T WANT TO GET HIM”. But sure enough, I did.
Everyone else had their names called out by their respective testers, so I was expecting to hear my name. Instead, the guy just stared at me, then beckoned me over.
“You here to sit your test?”
“What’s your name?”
I told him my name. Then I backtracked, realising it was booked under my legal name. He didn’t like that one bit.
“So which is it??”
Then I had to spell my name out for him, which he messed up three times.
It was a bad start. He was a total douche from then on, in every single way possible. Patronising, rude, picky and condescending. But I digress.
I am seriously considering legally changing my name and will probably do so at some point. Not to accomodate bigots, or simple minded people, or assholes like that driving tester. Just because I like things to be plain and simple. I don’t want to be faffing around with two names and explaning myself. I want my name on files and records at work and uni to be the name that I feel reflects who I am. I want my name on my passport and licence to be MY name.
Why haven’t I yet? It’s a hassle. It’s expensive. (Do you know how much it COSTS to get a new passport? It’s nearly two hundred dollars! It pisses me off no end when people want ID, and won’t take an expired passport. Hello? It has my name, photo, DOB, etc. What more do you want? Does my identity change once that expiry date has passed? Nooo. So unless you’re paying for it, I am not forking out for a new passport!) And my parents would probably feel a bit rejected. They went to an effort to choose a pretty name for me, after all. My kids are just going to have English names. I’m sure they understand that.
To be totally honest, I don’t particularly LIKE my name. But it’s what I’ve got, it’s what I’m used to and I’ll stick with it. Sure, lots of people choose totally different names at 18 and go with that, but that’s not for me. I can’t IMAGINE getting everyone I know to call me something new, not to mention getting myself to respond to an entirely new name. Plus of course, I can’t think of any names I’d particularly like to go by! My name will do just fine for this life.