Every name has a story behind it. The story behind a given name is often told by the one who gave the name, but chosen names are a bit different. The story of a chosen name is told by the person with that name. Franches is my chosen name, though I argue that it’s also my given name.
The First Try
When I went through my learning explosion phase I selected Lana Stella as my name. The story behind that name was a joke on how expensive crossdressing was. The word (not the name) “lana” in Spanish means “wool” and where I come from the word “lana” is also used to mean “money”, just the way in English one would say “dough” for money. Since I was spending so much “lana” on playing around with crossdressing, and I liked the name somewhat, I chose it as a first name. The “Stella” part came from the idea that crossdressing for me was like a bright star in the night sky. A beautiful twinkly light that made me smile when I saw it
When I decided to move forward and start my own process I first tried to use the name “Lana” as I had used it in the past. But it never felt right. It never resonated with me. I just did not identify with that name. Now I think of the name Lana Stella as a character name, almost like a stage name.
Something I Could Identify With
I could not think of a name that I could identify except my given name. It was somewhat of a struggle since my name is fairly masculine, meaning that it’s always a dude’s name. Then it hit me. My pet name or my short name at home had always been Franches. On its own it’s not instantly associated with a boy or a girl, and the important thing is that I totally identified with it. As a bonus my family and most of my childhood friends already referred to me as Franches.
Interestingly enough, before high school only my family used Franches as a pet or short name. Above I said that Franches is also my given name and that’s because since I can remember, my parents and my brothers intimately called me Franches. It was always a very personal and loving name that was given.
At one point in high school one of my friends heard my mum refer to me as Franches and started teasing me and using it as a nickname to annoy me. At the beginning it was indeed super annoying. But as my friends teased me more and more with that name it spread and became my short name well beyond just my immediate family.
What’s up With the “H”?
I think that if it was to be a short name from my given name the correct spelling would have to be “Frances”. And this is one of the other aspects that I struggled about my chosen name: the spelling.
I chose to put in an “h” for 2 reasons:
- In English, if someone reads “Frances” the pronunciation would be ˈfrɑːnsɪs and that is not how I pronounce it. I simply don’t identify with that pronunciation. In contrast, by inserting the “h” it forces a strong “ch” sound to match the way I pronounce it: ˈfrantʃɛs
- In Spanish, autocorrectors tend to add an accent at the end turning it to “Francés” which literally translates to “French”. By adding the “h” autocorrectors seem to leave the word as is and just flag it as an unknown word. And just like in English, adding the strong “ch” to “Franches” makes the pronunciation clear for anyone reading it in Spanish.
I rather like “Frances” for the spelling but for pure convenience I decided against it in favour of “Franches” with an “h”.
Both the spelling and pronunciation of Franches is so odd that I made myself a digital name tag.
I set the wallpaper on the lock screen of my mobile phone to have the word “Franches” across the screen. When someone asks for my name the exchange goes always something like this:
— What’s your name?
I get a blank look or they say
— “Frances”? (pronounced ˈfrɑːnsɪs)
— No, “Franches”, (ˈfrantʃɛs) like this…
Then I show my phone and they smile
For some reason I’ve been wanting to share about my name. I always find interesting and even helps better know and understand a person when they tell me the story behind their name. There is always s story even when it’s something like “it would have been my given name had I been assigned the opposite gender at birth”. What’s the story behind your name?
P.S. The header image is another photo of my mobile phone’s locked screen showing my “digital name tag” then blurred so you can read the title of this post a little bit easier.