Please, use my name

2015-08-19 13.12.29

It was a big change, going from minister to lay person. In retiring, everyone who knew me as their pastor wanted to keep calling me Pastor. It was done from love. It felt good. While I encouraged people to begin calling me by my first name, if they wanted to call me Pastor I was fine with that.

When, last August, I changed my name from Greg to Gina, many made the switch without incidence. Many did not. I understood the challenge involved with this. I was patient. Now, I was not only leaving the ministry, I was leaving behind my birth name.

Revealing that one has gender dysphoria is hard enough for some. Revealing that one is transitioning from male to female is a much greater leap. Changing names makes it all so real. The person who is transitioning needs to be as patient with his loved ones, friends, and peers as he or she wants from them.

I received several communications, for several months, in which the writer wrote, “Dear Greg,” and then made the case for the insistence on my birth name. In each case, the writer was a Christian, some of them were ministers, and they stressed that Greg is the name in which I was baptized, and then they urged me to take seriously the arguments they laid out.

I have not been addressed as Greg in so long that I cannot recall when it last was. Now, I am experiencing something else, and this one hurts me even more because there is no explanation accompanying it.

In the past two weeks, I received several messages and emails which were addressed to no one. There was no salutation. The people simply began with their first paragraph.

Often, in online communications, especially short ones and those following immediately on the heals of another, one does not include or continue to write a salutation. These communications are not those. These are longer, more formal messages and emails, some with folks whom I don’t know.  Definitely the type where “Dear Gina” would be appropriate.

I want you to know: As much as you struggle with my dramatic change, I feel like a non-person when you don’t use my name.

In some cases, I have been the one initiating the conversation. Each time, I used “Dear So-and-So,” and concluded with my standard closing, “Peace, Gina.” When the reply came, the person closed with his or her standard closing, say, “Regards, Mary,” but did not begin the note with a salutation.

Two times, I deliberately wrote replies with a salutation, where I often would cease with that, and included my standard closing to demonstrate the formality of the communication, to test the waters. Both times, the reply came with no salutation but with the person’s standard sign-off.

Many years ago, a teacher pointed out how a political opponent never used the name of his foe. The other guy was “my opponent” or “the senator from Indiana” or whatever worked in the context, but never the man’s name. To say his name, my teacher pointed out, would legitimize him, and the politician did not want to do that.

I feel illegitimate when people refuse to use my name.

Please know how terribly hard on me has been transitioning. I have written plenty on it. I have done that to educate, so that all might know that this is not undertaken lightly. It’s not a whim. It is the stuff of life’s greatest struggles.

I continue to have my struggles. They are easing, but they are not done. I take things to heart perhaps as deeply as anyone. I long to be accepted. I’ve always longed to be liked. My name is as important to me as your name is to you.

It’s a Golden Rule thing. Even when something is hard for us, even when we have our objections, our job is to treat others as we want them to treat us. I have made this the aim of my life, and have practiced it in the toughest spots, treating the other person with respect even when I did not respect the person because of his behavior.

You might not respect my transitioning. I understand that it is very hard for many. I will continue to educate.

In the mean time, I respectfully ask you to use my name. My name is Gina.

I do not despise my birth name. If I did not have this tremendously challenging situation, I would still be happy to be called Greg. It’s a good name. I am pleased to possess it.

But, for now, Gina is my name. In fact, it’s my legal name.

Please, use my name.

Finally, kindly take note that in my relationship with you I show you the three things to which I committed myself when I became a pastor: to be friendly, to show respect, and to demonstrate loving concern to all people, no matter what.


To close on a lighter note and demonstrate that all is not “woe is me,” and even to show that my sense of humor is as dorky as ever, I present the meme that my friend, Jan, created for me soon after I posted this essay on Facebook. If you know Stewie, you know that compliance is the only course of action! 🙂


4 thoughts on “Please, use my name

  1. Dear Gina,

    I have read several of your posts and while, in full disclosure, I disagree with your decision, I absolutely cannot imagine the struggle before you. It is easy for me to disagree with your path of choice because I have never faced the mountain you are standing before. I am faced with a choice, much like you but I’m a ch smaller level, the choice to let my disagreement cause me to try to convince you to change or to simply give you encouragement and let you know you are greatly cared for. I choose to encourage and trust Holy Spirit to make what ever changes He deems necessary.

    I think that is the difficulty we all face with this subject, whether those of us who disagree with your decision, or those, like yourself, who feel it the best decision; trusting God’s wisdom. It is the most difficult thing to trust and understand God’s wisdom and timing because it leaves us vulnerable. That is why we tend to take the reigns. As a result of that, I am positive you have been hurt by many who believe like me. For that I am greatly sorry.

    As I said I cannot fathom the great difficulty you are facing. Please know you will be in my prayers, not prayers against you or your decision, but prayers FOR you. Prayers for God to reveal Himself to you in ways, even as a former owastor, you have never known and to give you the answers you seek, the peace that has been taken from you, the gentle warmth of an arm around you saying, “I will never leave nor forsake you”.

    I will leave you with one last encouragement, keep seeking Him, keep knocking, keep asking, and God will open the door. You are loved, you are desired and you are pursued by the one who created you!

    With kindest regards,

    A humble screw up who is simply trying to learn Christ’s ways.

    (I pray this does not come cross as pandering or backhanded manipulation. The lack of inflection online is so misleading at times. My heart truly is one of care and concern for you. We can disagree and still be human beings worthy of respect)


    1. Dear Lee~

      Thank you for reading and taking the time to write thoughtfully and with compassionate concern. Worry not – I did not take a single word different from how you meant it.

      If you’ve read a fair cross-section of my posts, you know where I stand with believing my condition to be as physical as any malady. I never wanted to transition but, as I wrote in today’s piece, HRT has provided me with peace (as has all of transitioning), and it demonstrates to me the physical nature of my intersex condition.

      Please know – again, as I say in today’s piece – I continue to seek the Lord’s will, every step I take and, indeed, every single day. All I want to do is glorify Christ and serve my fellow man – exactly the same attitude as when I was a pastor.

      I am up against the clock this morning, so I will have to leave it at this. Thank you for reading. I hope you continue and, whenever prompted, that you will comment.


      Liked by 1 person

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