I’m in the process of legally changing my first and middle names. But don’t panic! I’ll still be writing under the name Barbara Cutrera – for now.
Why the name change? I’ve always hated the name Barbara Joan for myself. I don’t feel as if it fits me.
From the time I was small, I imagined what my name might be if I had my druthers. I didn’t think about this all of the time, but I did consider it off and on throughout my childhood and into adulthood. When I was in my 20s, I settled on Lauren Elisabeth but didn’t tell anyone else. I just loved the name and thought it fit me much better than Barbara Joan. Yet, it never occurred to me to change it despite the fact that I had a close friend who changed her first and middle names when she got married and was legally changing her last name.
Years later, one of my husband’s coworkers who was from Asia changed her name because of the difficulties she faced when it came to having people correctly pronounce and spell her birth name. Again, it didn’t occur to me that I could do this myself, even though I continued to dislike my own name.
At a conference in 2019, Budge and I ran into an author friend who was in the process of transitioning from male to female and was changing her name. For whatever reason, this made things click in my brain. I don’t know why this particular instance did it. I’d read of other people transitioning and changing their names. I’d known someone married to a person who’d transitioned from female to male. I have a friend whose relative had transitioned from male to female. But this author was the first person I’d been friends with who was transitioning and changing her name. I suddenly realized, “I’m an adult. I can change my name anytime I want.”
However, my son and I were scheduled to go to Great Britain in the spring of 2020, and I didn’t want to start the process and hit a snag, causing us to have a problem with identification and my passport. I decided to wait. Then…Covid. By the fall of 2020, I knew we would not be going ANYTIME in the near future and filed the paperwork. I’m glad I did. What normally would take 4-6 weeks to process is taking much longer since everything is being done on Zoom. So, my name change won’t be official until March 22nd when I meet with the judge via Zoom. Then, I can begin updating everything. That won’t be fun, but I look forward to it.
The interesting thing is that my father told me over 20 years ago that he and my mother had discussed names before he went to Vietnam and that they had decided on Lauren Elizabeth if I was a girl. However, when I was born, my mom named me after her sister, Barbara Joan. I was stunned since I’d never heard this from anyone in my life and had never told anyone what I’d choose for my name if I could change it. I’d wanted to have many other names throughout my life until I’d finally settled on that one as an adult, so it’s not as if I heard it as a small child and had it subconsciously stuck in my brain. Hm. Was this all a coincidence, or am I now simply fulfilling my destiny in my own way when it comes to my name?
I want to live as the person I feel I am inside, not to be forced to spend the rest of my life saddled with an identity that does not fit. Perhaps that’s why seeing our friend who is transitioning made such an impression. Being truly yourself is a very powerful thing.
I’ll continue to publish as Barbara Cutrera indefinitely since I already have 20 books out under that name. Eventually, I might make the switch. If not, it will simply remain as my pen name.
Some friends who’ve known the secret for months have already been calling me by my new name. One, a friend named Cat, voice texts me every morning a la Robin Williams and says, “Goooood morning, Lauren Elisabeth!” It brings a smile to my face every time.
This blog post was thrilling for me to write and share, but I have exciting news about an upcoming release that I’ll be posting next time. Stay tuned!