Q&A: the name game

Here we go. This first question is from Davmoo. What made you decide to change your name, and why did you pick the name you did?

Good question! And the question I am most often asked. I keep thinking that people just Know Why because I’ve had this name for nearly half my life now. But it’s true; I don’t really get into it in any journal entries or on my website.

I changed my name because I grew out of my birth name. My birth name is a very beautiful one, and it is a part of myself I will always hold dear. However, I have ever been in flux, and while I was spending my adolescence in Chicago, I came to know a street. The street and I bonded in an unusual way; I depended on it to center and ground me when I was at my worst. I drove up and down the street, I walked its length, and I felt home on it even though I never lived there.

That street was Halsted Street. I became so close to it that I wanted to incorporate it into my identity in a tangible way. So I decided, as I was growing out of my birth name, to become Halsted. I chose to keep my father’s family name as my middle name, and a derivative of my mother’s family name became my last name, thus honoring both parts of my heritage while creating my own.

At college, everyone called me ‘Sted, and I loved it. I thought it sounded so androgynous and strange, like I felt. (Although many people have told me I am not an androgyne, too feminine to be so, I still feel “between genders” as I have for most of my adult life.) My birth name was always a titch too feminine for my tastes, as well as diminuitive, and ever mispronounced; as Halsted, I am often assumed male until encountered in person, and the name is never mispronounced once heard. In fact, I would argue that it is an unforgettable name, and I endeavor to be an unforgettable person.

I believe the best part of my name is that it is something I gave myself. The second best part is that it is a fantastic writer’s name, and someday will look excellent on a book cover.

I miss Halsted Street daily, but I carry it around with me always, and that is the best way I can remember such an integral part of my past.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.