One's first name or names are terribly personal, and tend to define how people see you. If you like your name, and everybody else likes it too, you tend to 'grow' into it so that it seems to fit your personality exactly, and you could not be called anything else.
I've written about my own name before - see for instance Will you take some tea, Miss Melford? on 19 July 2009. In this post I'm concentrating on the forename (in my case Lucy). As the July 2009 post says (rather succinctly for me!), I chose Lucy because I'd always liked it, and its main vowel sound (the 'oo') was also prominent in my former name, which was Julian. I could say the same of the consonant 'l' and the vowel 'i' - 'uli' became 'lui'. Both Julian and Lucy are liquid names that involve a bit of tongue work to articulate.
I don't think they are all that far apart, although the shadowy connection of Lucy with Julian isn't at all obvious; and having any connection at all wasn't uppermost in my mind when naming myself. It was more important to have a name that would suit me, and elicit the right sort of response in the people I would encounter in my new life as Lucy. I felt it was a sweet kind of name that would produce a gentle reaction and give me a breathing space. It wasn't a harsh or abrupt or puzzling kind of name that would confuse or wrong-foot or offend. It wasn't foreign or exotic to English ears. It was short and easy to spell. It existed when I was born, so it wasn't an anachronism, and it well suited a certain type of lively middle-aged educated woman from a middle-class background with a leaning (or pretentions, if you prefer) towards art and style - the name of a lady of leisure and independent means certainly. There was no Lucy in the family tree that I knew of, and no family member would be put out if I adopted that name.
The entire name - Lucy Melford - seemed to flow easily off the tongue, full of soft-sounding letters, and I thought it was somewhat evocative of the old English countryside. That was a deliberate intention, a nod to my Dad's origins in Devon, although the only common 'Mel-' elements in West Country placenames seem to occur in Dorset (e.g. Melbury Abbas, Melbury Bubb, Melcombe Bingham, Melplash). Long Melford and Melford Hall are in Suffolk. My neice told me that 'Lucy Melford' could have been a character in one of Jane Austen's novels. That pleased me very much.
I confess that I was also influenced by the down-to-earth and comprehensive advice on choosing a suitable name in Andrea James' Transsexual RoadMap (http://www.tsroadmap.com/reality/nameindex.html). Required reading, I'd have thought! I also paid attention to how easily the name 'Lucy Melford' could be written in my own fair hand (see http://www.tsroadmap.com/physical/handwriting/index.html). After all, even if everything is typed nowadays, you still have to sign your name sometimes in face-to-face situations, there are still cheques to write and sign, and all paper forms require a signature. Your handwritten name needs to flow quickly and easily from the pen, with no hestitation and no difficult or unnatural pen movements.
So much for myself. What do other people call themselves? Here's list of MTF trans people that I've come across in UK social situations, mostly the ones who made it into my address book:
That's nearly three years worth of accumulated names! Things that strike me are:
# Most names seem to come from the first half of the alphabet, A to M (55/94 = 58%); but the commonest in my collection is Sarah.
# Some are exotic or unusual, but not all that many.
# Only a few are oddly or unexpectedly spelt.
# Nearly all are single names, and not a double-barrelled combination.
# Absent are some everyday female names like Katie, Carol, Betty, Tracey, Jackie, Alison, Anne, Frances, Ruth, Joanna, Maggie, Wendy, Marilyn and Mary.
# Also absent are some 'posh' female names like Olivia, Jocasta, and of course Fiona.
I get the feeling that 'ordinary' female names have been avoided, perhaps in the quest for some individuality, or an intention to stand out from the crowd just a little. (But not too much!)
It's a good point to make that - in British culture, and excluding stage people and that sort of person - only transsexuals get the chance to adopt and use in real life another name that they have chosen for themselves. It's a fantastic privilege.