What’s in a name?

To a mother, at one point, it’s everything. She ponders, wonders, smiles at her own audacity. She says the names of relatives and friends until they’re meaningless on her lips. She finally chooses a collection of letters, black shapes on a page that will shape her whole life, a word she’ll utter a million times in joy and exasperation. A word she hopes will one day be etched on diplomas, on certificates, on hearts she can’t yet imagine.

He knew this, this child of a beloved mother. He bore the name she’d chosen for her child, a daughter, all those years ago. He came out to his friends and family. When one day he was asked what name he wanted on his tag at a school activity, he knew it was time for a change.

But he didn’t want to make it alone, or to cast aside his mother’s choice too quickly. And so he came home from school, this child on the verge of trans manhood, and said to his mother, cooking dinner: Mom. Will you name me? Will you choose for me again? 

She put down her spoon. 

Together, they pondered and wondered. They researched names. She likes religious ones, named her younger sons after archangels. In just thirty minutes, the choice was made. 

“Sean” came all the way from Ireland, meaning “God is gracious.” Those four wandering letters somehow meandered from one green country to another, landing in Costa Rica. Were they called forth, perhaps, by these acts of deepest grace: his towards his mother, hers towards her son? 

We name our babies without their knowing, without their permission—usually, without even having seen them. We name them in the dark. This child stood full in the light and sought out his mother on purpose. He took his new identity, still so tender and new, and placed it squarely in her hands. 

Mom, will you name me? Yes, my son. I will. 

Text by Katherine Stanley Obando, inspired by the story of the name change of Sean Miranda Solís, a member of Síwo Alâr Hombres Trans Costa Rica. Sean told us that when he was ready to change his name to mark his identity as a trans man, he asked his mother, Ana Lorena Solís Solís, to select a new name for him. Our weekly Media Naranja column tells short love stories with a Costa Rican twist. During our June edition, they have focused on love stories related to Costa Rica’s LGBTIQ+ community.

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