Skylar MacDonald's “Skylar MacDonald” FAQ

Hi, I’m Skylar MacDonald.

Recently, I took the decision to change my name to Skylar MacDhòmhnaill (but you can call me Skylar MacDonald). As it turns out, when you change your name, people have a lot of questions. Here are the answers to some of them.

I have been asked all of these questions at least once. I’m sure I will update this as time goes on with more questions I get asked.

Why did you change your name?
Because I can.
No, but, really — why?
See above.
Why did you choose “Skylar MacDonald”?
The long answer is beyond the scope of this FAQ. The short answer is: because I like it.
Oh, MacDonald, did you choose that because of—
Oh, Skylar, did you choose that because of—
I've never seen Breaking Bad.
Do you have any middle names?
Yes: Leith. Not as in the district.
How do you pronounce ‘MacDhòmhnaill’?
It's roughly the same as “MacDonald”. It's going to be easier for everyone if you just say “MacDonald”.
Does this mean you're…?
Well, that depends.
Did you actually change your legal name?
How did you do it?
I used Dan Q's free UK deed poll generator, filled in the details, printed it out and signed it. In the UK (except Scotland), that's all you have to do.
Is it really free?
Awesome! I'm going to go change my name to Princess Consuela Banana-hammock!
As is your right.
Can I call you Skye?
What pronouns should I use for you?
She/her, please.
You know how much work this is going to take, right?
I'm acutely aware.
Does this mean you have to change all your ID and stuff?
Yes. I've done most of it already.
Ah, but have you thought about—
Isn't your former name still going to be on (name of some thing)?
Probably. I'm generally OK with that, but if it really does look like I've forgotten to change it, let me know. If you can be bothered.
Wait, MacDhòmhnaill? Isn't that going to break a bunch of systems that aren't designed to handle names with non-ASCII characters in them?
Like you wouldn't believe.
What was your name before?
None of your business.
Well, I'm still going to call you...
That isn't a question, and please don't.
Yeah, but that's not your real name.
It's what's on my ID and it's what people call me. That's as real as it gets.
It's going to be difficult to get used to calling you a new name.
I know; I've been using my former name for a lot longer than you've known me! If you slip up now and again, that's OK.
Does that mean you have a new signature?
Yes, but I'm not going to put it on the internet. (You ought to have seen that coming, really.)
You should buy a farm!
I've considered it. Farms are surprisingly pricey.
If you were going to do this, why didn't you choose (funny name)?
Two reasons. One: choosing the best joke is difficult, as I've then got to live with it (until such time as I can be bothered to do this all again). Two: my name isn't always going to be used in jokey contexts. I'm going to have to give my name to get through immigration control, or if I'm summoned for jury duty. Sometimes, having a name that isn't funny is a good idea.

Names are an important part of identity. While I don’t necessarily mind that much if you get my name wrong every now and again, it’s really important — for me and for everyone else — that if someone tells you their name, that’s what you call them (and if someone tells you that their name has changed, you change what you call them). There doesn’t need to be a reason, and if there is, it’s not your right to know what it is.

I hope I’ve answered your question about my new name. If I haven’t, feel free to ask me, although I can’t guarantee you’ll get an answer. (Ask a silly question…)

I'm indebted to Dan Q, whose name change FAQ inspired most of the questions here. He also built the thing I used to change my name. Huge thanks also to all of the friends who've helped me with this.

About Skylar MacDonald

Reluctant technologist. CAD & Technical Lead/nerd at London Ambulance Service. Tech stuff, NHS/999 stuff, occasional Excel witchcraft. Views, regrettably, my own.