I changed my name
I went to the courthouse, sat in front of a judge and changed my last name.
Everyone's first question is "Why?" - understandably.
My answer is "I wanted to."
I start explaining in the vlog above that "there aren't many things we get to choose in life, and if you are unhappy with something and you can choose to change it with out hurting anyone, why wouldn't you choose to change it?" I want to expand on that point a bit more. What I'm getting at is you don't get to choose your gender, your sexual orientation, your eye color, or hair color from birth.
A name is something that, at least legally, is a bit more difficult to change than your hair color but if it will make you happy to change it, why wouldn't you?
I think so many people choose to not change their name, especially a last name, due to the concerns about it hurting their family or their family's legacy. This I understand, and if that is important to you then dont change your name. To be clear, I never wanted this name change to hurt my family in any way. The Cummings name has a long and interesting linage and for my family members I like the way it sounds and connects to their identity. I just never felt connected to that name when I said it next to my first name. I didn't fell confident saying it out loud. I didn't like people introducing me in meetings. I didn't like the way my first name and my last name sounded together. Its just me!
My own "name dysmorphia?"
For me the picture is far bigger than a family linage or legacy. I subscribe to the idea that we all started as stardust and we will all end up as stardust. So when you have that image in your mind you realize - who really gives a shit what my name is?
So, I changed it, because I wanted to.
I have a great support system in my friends and family that helped encourage me to go forward with this change. You will see in the video my partner of 9 years, Jay Otto, my sister Cheryl, and my mom, Mary, all of which I did talk to about this months prior to going to the courthouse. But I also want to mention some friends that were immediately supportive with out question.
"Ooh, sounds like a crime fighting super hero, like Jessica Jones!"
Upon telling Lu my last name for the first time (when it was Cummings) I told him I was thinking about changing it. With out hesitation, he said "do it!" When Victoriafirst learned of my name change ideas I had just started trying out the last name Essex. Her first response was "Ooh, sounds like a crime fighting super hero, like Jessica Jones!" So that made me laugh. Lindsey has been there, listening to me talk about this from conception to completion, and her encouraging words are always helpful in moments of doubt.
The next question people ask is why "Essex?" "Did you find it in you history?" "Did you like its lineage?"
To which I point to what I wrote above, I don't care about any of that stuff. I just thought it looked and sounded good next to my first name. Boom! Done!
I was walking home from work one day in the lower east side of Manhattan. Walking east on Stanton Street, I looked up at the street signs, Essex street...Erin Essex...Erin Essex...yea, I like that!
Yup, that simple.
A few weeks before my hearing I went to the main courthouse in lower Manhattan and handed them $60, then set a date to sit in front of the judge. That day came so quickly; it was mid July and hot AF outside.
I was nervous leading up to my turn in front of the judge. I was afraid she was going to deny my request because I wouldn't have a "good enough reason," or she would laugh at me. I practiced my pitch on how I wanted to choose something I liked and all the other stuff I mentioned above. But I didn't need any of it.
"Your current name is Erin Elizabeth Cummings?" she queried,
"And your new name will be "Erin Elizabeth Essex"
"Please check the spelling here"
"Yes, this is correct"
Bang Bang, her gavel hit the desk.
It was done! That was it! And she had a fucking gavel! Awesome!
NOW YOU HAVE THE STORY
So, I changed my name and no matter if you think its stupid or not, I hope it might encourage at least a few of you to question norms that might hold you back from doing something you really want to do.
Live is short, live it how YOU want to.