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In which the law gets in the way

August 8, 2008

My legal name will probably be the same forever. I don’t know how the system works in other countries; but around here, the paperwork would take years. That is, if it’s possible at all.

There’s this law that makes parents give their children “properly” gendered names. Technically you could use an androgynous-sounding name, and you could even give a kid a name associated with the opposite sex. But in both cases, that name has to be complemented by another one that defines hir (biological) sex: hence María José for a girl or José María for a boy. (I like the how these really traditional combinations mix up genders, even if they don’t question the binary.)

I guess it’s a cultural thing. Naming laws are made to protect kids’ dignity, and maybe gender is so important in my culture that it would be an insult not to know someone’s gender.

So, I can’t be legally called an androgynous name in any circumstances. And if I wanted a male name, I’d have to go through sex-reassignment surgery –which I don’t want– and then prove myself man enough to deserve a legal sex change –which I don’t want either, and I don’t think I would be macho enough to pass.

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