Sunday Summary: 10.7.18People ask me all the time: is it a big deal to go by your middle name?

My answer is no, not really. It’s what I do, and 99% of people I interact with never ask to see my ID. Even though it throws me when someone calls me by my first, it’s not like I need the person looking up my insurance claim information to know that I prefer my middle.

And yet, generally speaking, life is easier if you’re NOT known by your middle name. There are good and valid reasons to do it my way, and many more R. Michaels and S. Lauras that you would ever guess. But those 1% moments? They’re out there.

Case in point: my daughter is in a new activity, and to volunteer, I’m required to have a background check and wear a name tag, generated by the national organization. Who could argue with such a process in 2018?

But the name tag they sent bears my full legal name. Another volunteer, who I’ve only ever known as Julie, is, it turns out Julianne. And so on.

Every time I encounter something like this, I find myself thinking two things: first, it’s a minor inconvenience for me. The kids won’t call me by my first name anyway, and the adults? They’re well aware that I’m Abby, not Amy Abigail, thanks. But for the organizations? I feel like it’s a missed opportunity. Asking people what they want to be called – and then using it! – seems like a simple, but meaningful act.

Just something to think about.

Elsewhere online:

That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading, and have a great week!

Boy Names 10.7.18 Girl Names 10.7.18

About Abby Sandel

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What do you think?


  1. I agree with you – if everyone has that option. My point was that I think it’s unfair when the law enshrines that right to one group (namely transgender people) but not others (e.g. those who go by their middle name, nickname, unrelated name, etc. without any gender identity issues).

  2. Did you know, that in some states/cities, forcing someone to wear a name tag that bears their legal name when they don’t go by it is illegal – if they’re transgender and haven’t changed their name yet. I am against such policies as they often are not because I’m anti-transgender (if you’ve seen some of my other comments I am very much pro-transgender) but because it forces institutions to give “special treatment” to transgender people that they are not required to give to others who may not go by their legal first name for whatever reason. The LGBT community frequently argues that all they’re asking is for “equal” and not “special” treatment, but in this case you can see how that reasoning may fail if it’s a case where everyone has to use their legal name (as opposed to cases where they deny the right of transgender people to use their chosen name when they allow nicknames, etc. for other reasons – which is unquestionable discrimination). Of course I don’t have a problem with anyone who wants to be called something different, but I don’t think one group should be given more rights to use a “preferred name” over others.

    1. Abby’s point was that many people go by something other than their legal name for various reasons. Allowing flexibility for people to choose what name goes on their name tag is not “special treatment,” it actually makes things simpler and less confusing.

      1. Thanks, Rachel. I couldn’t quite think of how to say it.

        People should be called what they want to be called. It seems simple, but somehow it isn’t always …