Advanced Essay #3: Christina Santana

My goal for this paper was to  focus on the topic of names and their importance in our society. I wanted to capture what effect they can have on people as well as the impact that they can have on a larger scale. I could have improved my paper by adding a scene of memory, but I am pleased with my overall product. I think that I did a wonder job at integrating outside sources into my work, and I feel that I provided strong, supporting analysis for them. 


Christina Santana

Mr. Block

English - E band

09 March 2018

What’s In A Name?

People mold their identity around the name they were given. They go through their lives unknowingly trying to sever themselves from the preconceived image that their name holds. This is due to the fact that society has an unconscious bias on names that causes them to develop an immediate opinion of people solely based off on that aspect. Different names are held to different standards. They’re viewed in various ways, most of which are based off of an individual's personal preferences and surroundings. For example, people with a subdued and introverted personality may prefer traditional names. Whereas, people who have an exuberant and extroverted personality may prefer out of the box names. Names can also be viewed as a way of personifying some else's mannerisms. An example being how someone could say “you’re acting like a Brittany”, a name that is typically used to reference a stereotypical privileged girl. In this situation, the person in questions knows that by using the name Brittany, they are automatically implying that the person they’re speaking to is replicating the personality traits associated with the name. This is case for all names in our society. A primary example of the blatant categorization that our minds are accustomed to configuring.  

Names in our society change as the social climate changes. The popularity of a name is dependent on prominent figures in our society, and the perception of certain names fluctuate as time goes on. A notable example of this is celebrities. Celebrities in the media today have a big affect on what names people find appealing. From names like North West to Stormi Webster, the diverse list of unique celebrity baby names is longer than a New York skyscraper. With that being said, our society immediately develops an opinion on the names. Primarily because they were created by people who have an immense influence on large audiences. While the notoriety of these names may seem like a huge asset to celebrites, it leaves their children out to open for unwanted judgement from others. It leaves the as vulnerable as lambs placed in a lion’s den.

The importance of names varies in different committees and environments. In some cases, there are different categorizations for names as a whole. In the Transgender community, a dead name is known as the name a transgender has person has prior to their transition. In most cases, trans people choose a new name as a way to embrace the identity of who they always knew they were. This new name then acts as a way to marks the "death" of their old identity. Then dead names are used, they act as a blatant sign of disrespect towards the person in question. There is a specific name for this demeaning tactic, known as dead naming. Dead naming, as Google states is "the practice of uttering or publishing the name that a trans person used prior to transition. ”A perfect example of this comes from an article posted on Popsugar. In this article, they discuss an Amazon Prime show called Transparent, and more specifically how the main characters transition from male to female has affected their life. They say, “In many small ways, her family shows resistance in accepting Maura's true presentation of self. It may be by using her old name or by recounting pretransition memories. Even the term "Moppa" — an amalgamation of "Momma" and "Poppa" that her kids adopt in the wake of her coming out — refuses to acknowledge that Maura wishes to be seen completely as a woman.” This concise excerpt is just one of many examples that show how crucial selecting of new name is during the transition process, and it greatly displays the emphasis of names in our society. Specifically in sense of how people mold their identities around their names and use it as their rock during hard times.

Names are a huge part of people’s identity, and they act as the base of a much larger picture. According to, “The bestowal of name and identity is a kind of symbolic contract between the society and the individual. By giving a name the society confirms the individual's existence and acknowledges its responsibilities toward that person.” This quote simply corroborates the fact that through names, individuals become part of society. As people begin to flourish and make names for themselves, society's view of said names continue to change. The perception remains to be held in the eye of the beholder.

Words define our reality, and names define our identity. People either live their lives trying to conform to the standard of their name or they make it their mission to break themselves from that mold. Regardless of the path taken, names are a universal sign of recognition. A golden ticket used to represent an idivusal’s integration into society. It’s importance is often overlooked, but the reality is that names set the stand for the rest of our lives. That said, it is our job to make our names our own.

Works Cited

Campbell, Mike. “Names and Personal Identity.” Behind the Name - the etymology and history of first names,

Roschke, Ryan. “What It Means to "Dead-Name" a Transgender Person, and Why You Should Stop.” POPSUGAR News, 8 Mar. 2018,