Over the course of our lives our understanding of ourselves may change. Sometimes a new understanding is signified with a change in name as we endeavor to share our insights about ourselves with those around us. In recent years I've changed my name several times to reflect an ongoing conversation about my identity with myself and others.
Throughout this site you will find that I have referred to myself by many different names, pronouns, and titles. Partly this was for simplicity, as it would be difficult to retroactively change my name on the primary documents. However, my various names are also a way of reflecting the different outlooks I've had over the years. The fact that I have chosen this path, sharing my previous names, does not mean that it would be right for another person. It is the height of rudeness to reject the name a person chooses for themself and inquire about previous names that they have had
The gift of knowing my previous names and pronouns IS NOT permission to apply them to me in the present day. I am Ari Leigh, use They/Them pronouns and the title Mx. Referring to me by any other name or pronoun is a hurtful act that places your comfort as more important than my existence.
Ari Leigh (Sept. 2017 - Current)
As much as I loved the richness of 'Andrew Amanda', and despite finding a loving community that saw and interacted with me as who I was, the intensity of discrimination I faced due to my name meant that a change was in order. For names are about more than reflecting our innermost selves, they are first and foremost about communication, and while Andrew Amanda enabled me to connect with many people who needed to see me, I simultaneously lost the ability to access key services due to discrimination. Thus I set out to find a new name that met three criteria, was short enough to be easy to say, allowed me to keep my same initials, and had a meaning I could resonate with.
|Mx.||Pronounced "mix", this gender neutral title expresses the complexity of my gendered experiences.|
|Ari||Found by searching numerous name lists for gender neutral names that start with A, Ari has a rich history in many cultures. From my Christian formation I resonate strongest with the Hebrew meaning of "lion", and it's associations with courage. The courage that name embodies for me ranges from standing firm in the face of discrimination to making space to acknowledge where I've made mistakes. It is a complex courage that involves holding ones ground in the storm, and having the wisdom to ask for help.|
|Leigh||From the old English word for meadow, it reflect my commitment to continue to seek time for peace and rest that holds and affirms the complexities of the human experience.|
|(Bullard)||An invisible surname that is not on the legal name change document. Because I preferred being called "Mx. Leigh" I decided to drop the hyphenated surname. Still this name feels like a part of me, and I still initial things as ALB.|
Mx. Andrew Amanda Leigh-Bullard (2015-2017)
My legal name from July 2016 - Sept 2017, it reflected my desire to claim the fullness of my experience. It is a shorter form of the name I began using in 2013, having been simplified in order to adapt to cultural limitations. I started using my full first name (AndrewAmanda) in daily life during the fall of 2015 after being made aware of other cultures in which dual first-names are a common practice. This change was also prompted by gender dysphoria. The nickname "Andy" that held a lot of meaning for me began to feel constricting because it was being used by the communities I was in to force me into a 'masculine' role. Once I realized that I was using the nickname 'Andy' for other peoples comfort to such a degree that it was masking the truth that I'd been given to share; I knew it was time for a change.
|Mx.||A gender neutral title which expresses my understanding of myself as being agender.|
|Andrew||Celebration of the times I've lived as Andrew.|
|Amanda||Celebration of the times I've lived as Amanda.|
|Leigh||From the old English word for meadow, it was a prayer for the peaceful serenity I sought in naming myself truly.|
|-Bullard||Retains the connection to my father along with being the anchor which had been used in all of my names up to this point.|
Mx. Andrew Leigh Amanda LeAnn Bullard (2013 - 2015, written)
In January 2013 I began to be aware that my gender was not limited to a masculine presentation. I wrestled with this for a few months, finding comfort in the term "bigender". In early spring I began to take steps to reclaim the femininity I had set aside during my first transition. As I grew more comfortable with myself as being both male and female I began to take steps to share this insight publicly. I did so by creating a signature which combined my legal and my birth names, affirming that both were critical to my understanding of myself. I began to use this name online, along with gender neutral pronouns, in the summer of 2013. It became my preferred method of signing documents in the fall of that year.
|Mx.||A gender neutral title which expressed my understanding of myself as being both male and female.|
|Andrew Leigh||Affirmed connection to my life experiences as a man who was comfortable with a masculine identity.|
|Amanda LeAnn||Affirmed connection to my life experiences as a woman who was comfortable with a feminine identity.|
|Bullard||Retained the connection to my father along with being the bridge which had been used in both my legal and my birth name.|
Andy Leigh-Bullard (2013 - 2015, spoken)
As I moved to New Haven, CT in August 2013 I realized that I strongly desired to complete my transition to living as both male and female, having experienced the painful limits imposed on male and female identities. As I had been socialized to believe that Andrew Leigh Amanda LeAnn Bullard was prohibitively lengthy to use for spoken conversation I sought a nickname that I would both be comfortable with and that could still reflect the fullness of who I'd become. During this time I also began to use "they" pronouns.
|Andy||Short for both Amanda and Andrew. Amanda shortens to "Mandy" which is then able to be shortened to Andy. Andy is also classic nickname for Andrew. This made Andy the obvious choice for daily use.|
|Leigh-Bullard||A hyphenated surname which reflects my aesthetic preference for Leigh and my desire for the familial tie to the name Bullard. In spoken conversation the "Bullard" was often dropped, leaving my name "Andy Leigh" or "Mx. Leigh".|
Andrew Leigh-Bullard (2011 - 2013)
During my 2011 transition to male I searched for a name which would reflect the person I thought I was becoming. I settled on Andrew Leigh-Bullard by reversing and expanding my middle name and adding my father's surname. This worked on multiple levels as I also appreciated the ability to keep the same initials while many other things in my life were changing. I started using Andrew Leigh-Bullard in April 2011 and the legal name change was approved in Lyon County, KS on July 5, 2011. During this process I also started to be referred to by "he" pronouns.
|Andrew||Originally selected for it's similarity in sound to "Ann" I was also drawn by it's Greek meaning of "male/masculine" and "warrior". I hoped that a strong name would give me the strength for the challenging transition ahead. A few months after I had completed the name change I returned to the Christian church and developed a new appreciation for the name, this time centered in it's association with Saint Andrew.|
|Leigh||Old English for "meadow" I chose this name because it reminded me of the serenity of sitting outside, looking over a vast natural space and feeling calm. At the time I felt I needed to have in my name something that reminded me of my peaceful contemplative spirit to balance the active warrior sense of myself that Andrew embodied.|
|-Bullard||A hyphenated surname was selected so that I could go by Andrew Leigh (or even Mr. Leigh) in spoken conversation, while retaining a legal tie to my father's name.|
Amanda LeAnn Bullard (1989 - 2011)
The name my parents gave me at birth. I was assigned to the female sex & raised as girl using "she" pronouns.
|Amanda||Latin for "Beloved, Worthy of Love" I clung to this name as a child because it affirmed an inherent self-worth which I was missing in many of the cultural narratives I heard growing up.|
|LeAnn||My parent's chose this because Amanda Ann didn't sound right. Ann is my mother's middle name, and thus LeAnn is a connection to her.|
|Bullard||My father's surname.|