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My Name Is Iden — What’s in a name?

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By Iden Crockett

What’s in a name? That’s such a cliché and it’s asked so often that it has become more of a statement than a question — what’s in a name.

I’ve been turning the phrase over in my mind lately, hearing it both ways, and thinking about names. Names and naming have always been sacred and magickal, accompanied by all manner of ceremony and significance back past recorded history. But I don’t think most of us give a lot of thought to our own names anymore — not nearly as much as we would to the naming of a child or even our pets.

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I think that we take our names for granted because, after all, they were literally granted to us and have just always been. But what if we had chosen our own names?

As a transgender person, I was faced with choosing a new name for myself. One of the very first things that my wife asked me after I came out to her was, “Will you change your name?”

I didn’t know. I didn’t know because I hadn’t thought about it. I did feel that I wanted a new name.

The old one didn’t suit me any longer — and maybe it never had. But change it to what? Until she asked me that, I hadn’t realized that I had that sort of power. It had never occurred to me that I could create a new name for myself.

Once I realized that I could do that — that I could change my name to any name that I wanted — then I understood that I could change my life in any way that I wanted. I did not need to accept the things in my life that didn’t fit who I was just because those things seemed like they had always been.

Nearly a year-and-a-half later, when I told my wife that I had accepted the offer to write this column, the first thing she asked me was, “What will you call it?” The next question was, “What will you write about?”

I had no idea, no answer to either. I began to feel a touch panicky, because what could be more important than a name? And how could I decide on subject matter without a solid name? I felt that a lot was riding on my choosing the proper name for this thing — this creation, this word baby — of mine.

What to do? I decided that I would do what all wise and thoughtful people do when they are faced with a decision of weight and consequence. I would listen to my wife.

She had told me, “Call it ‘My Name is Iden.’”

I didn’t want to do that, at first. I’d already used that name for all of my art-related media and, frankly, it felt lazy to me. Then I asked myself why I had selected that name, Iden, for myself in the first place. Why had I used it to represent my other work? What was so special about those words — “my name is Iden” — to me? What is in that name? What is in that name.

The answer is, of course, me. I am in that name. My name is Iden. I had chosen that name for myself and, in doing so, gave myself permission to change anything and everything about my life that didn’t suit me. When I create, whether it’s with pictures or words, I am sharing a part of me, and my journey, with the world. This column, this creation, will be no different. When I say to you, “Hello, my name is Iden,” I am telling you a story. I am sharing a part of my journey with you.

So it was decided. I would name this space “My Name is Iden” and I would use it to share myself with the world — or as much of the world as cares to listen, anyway. This will be a place for stories, thoughts, memories and feelings. I hope that there will be something in all of that mess that is universal and meaningful. I hope that you will leave taking less for granted, examining life more closely. Maybe start that journey where I did. You might find that the “What” of you is right there in your own name.

*Iden Crockett is an artist and writer. She lives in Yellow Springs with her wife and three children. You can follow her work at


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