I tried out many names before finding one that felt right. At some point I went online and looked at names that were popular when I was born. I also looked at names that were popular when my mom was born—wondering if she would have thought, “I named my daughter this, because it was my favorite name when I was born.” Finally I narrowed it down to my two favorite names, and I tried both out. Alicia was the one that fit.

One of the biggest challenges before getting my legal name change was jobs. Jobs and jobs and jobs. I went to a lot of job fairs. And I didn’t know when I went to these job fairs, or to interviews, if I should use my legal name, or if I should keep that a secret. Handing them an ID that didn’t match my name felt like I was constantly outing myself. Eventually I thought I wouldn’t apply to any jobs; I’d stay working at the crappy job I had until I could figure all of that out.  But now that I have my name change—and all the paperwork matches—I’m open to other opportunities.

People would ask questions about my old name, and I never knew how they would react to my answers. I felt like it put me in danger. Or when I’d have certain people over, I’d worry they’d see a piece of mail addressed to my old name.  I didn’t invite a lot of people over for that reason, and if I did I made sure those pieces of mail were hidden. But now I don’t have to think about that anymore. My name is Alicia, and that’s all you ever have to worry about.

The day I got it done, I was ecstatic. I was jumping up and down. It was the same place that I got my learner’s permit; I didn’t realize that until I got there. So it was an exciting experience for me—to be at the same place for another milestone in my life.  Before my name change, when I would introduce myself, in the back of my head I always thought, “Oh, but that’s not my legal name.” Now that it all matches, I’m showing my ID to everyone: ‘Look! Look! I don’t know you, but look!’

My advice to anyone who is getting a legal name change would be to come prepared to the MVA, to have all your paperwork together in one place before you do anything. I had a folder that contained: my name change papers, my old social security card, paperwork saying I’d changed my name with social security, some pieces of mail, and all the letters from my doctors and my psychiatrist. Do your research beforehand, so that when you get there it’s not a surprise.

Name changes are so important, because people need to feel comfortable in their own skin. I’ve been so much happier and more enthusiastic since my name change. It gives me a sense of place finally.