Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Times Are Changing (And So Is My Name)

I have long hated my legal name for many reasons, from the fact that not many people know how to pronounce or spell my first name (although that had gotten better in recent years since it started gaining popularity in Christian circles), and the fact that my "mother" had given it to me, and my middle name was after my father. It felt like I had a cattle brand on my back from my so called mother, and I wanted it gone, now that they are no longer in my life.

Madison County's courthouse and county
administration building
So, today, I went down to the Circuit Clerk's office for Madison County, Illinois, and filed the paperwork I had printed out for a legal name change. I filed the paperwork for a legal name change, applying to have my first and middle names changed.

I have no attachment to my last name at all, but I figured that changing my last name too could get confusing for both me and everyone else. Maybe later in life, if I get married, I'll change it to her last name. I'm definitely not a traditional kind of person, and societal gender norms have never made sense to me anyway.

I went through security at the courthouse, my steel toe shoes aggravated the metal detectors, as I warned the officers that they would do, and an officer felt the leg of the boots, making sure I wasn't hiding anything in them (thinking of it later, I wonder why they would go to such lengths with the boots, yet not make me take off my coat, and search it?). The officer directed me to the Circuit Clerk's office for their civil division, I filed the paperwork, and wrote a $219 check for the filing fee.

Office staff then told me the procedure, that they will send me copies of the documents in the mail within the next few days, stating that it has been filed, and it will come with a form for me to present to a local newspaper for to file an ad for the legal classifieds section to run for 3 weeks, publicly announcing my intent to change my name.

After that's run it's course, then it goes to the judge within the next 2 weeks after the ad stops running, the judge will review everything, merely to check to see if everything has been filed properly in accordance with Illinois law.

At that time I'll have a hearing with the judge where they will go through the formalities of officially declaring it done, and give me the documents to present to various governmental agencies to have my driver's license, car and house titles, Social Security card, etc changed to the new name.

I was told the judges do not have the habit of asking for the reasons behind the name change, they just see it as a formality, stamp and move on.

It's a priceless feeling, in about 6 weeks, I will finally establish my identity, a new that's mine, and not one that was forced upon my by my abuser. It's a big symbolism that I'm moving on.


  1. How did you pick your new name?

  2. Congratulations, Sheldon. My name was actually chosen by the woman who went on to be my ACE supervisor. When I realised I wanted no part of that old life, I still liked my name enough to keep it, but I changed the spelling. It was just symbolic enough to feel like a break. I can imagine how your old name, coming directly from abusive parents, would feel, and I'm happy for you.

  3. Congrats! I've always heard that legally changing one's name is kind of a hassle. Hope it isn't too bad.

    1. I think the real hassle is going to come when I have to replace all legal documents with the new name.

  4. Bravo! I sense healing in this change. Wish you all the best as you take on this new name.

  5. Glad you are able to make a clean start. Be well my friend.


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