Here’s the problem: I like my birth name. It’s very stately, very elegant, and suits my personality so well that it can virtually be used as an adjective describing the way that I behave. If it were a gender-neutral name like “Leslie” or some such, then I would not hesitate to keep it. However, in spite of the efforts of a handful of yuppies that I’ve heard about, “James” is still very much connotative of maleness, which is a connotation that I do not want.
To ease the transition, I have tried adopting the more-feminine cognate “Jaime*” but to own the truth, I have had difficulty thinking of myself as such. At the risk of offending any other women with this name, it sounds a great deal less refined than it’s masculine opposite; as such, I have been hesitant to correct those who still call me James**. I adopted it more for the sake of continuity than anything else, but I’m not sure if it serves that purpose well enough.
In my research, I have stumbled upon other feminine forms of James: I think I could fairly easily think of myself as “Jamesina,” which I feel reflects a lot of the dignity of the male form, but it’s rather old fashioned and perhaps sounds faintly ridiculous to a modern ear. A more modern form, “Jamesica,” embodies all of the ridiculousness but none of the dignity.
Perhaps I could consider other, unrelated but equally dignified names. I have always been partial to ‘Victoria,’ for example. If any of my readers have any suggestions on this topic, I encourage you to share them. In the mean time, I’m going to put it to a poll:
*Although I have read that in Spanish-speaking cultures, this is also connotative of masculinity, but in Canada, this is less the case than with the alternatively-spelled “Jamie.” More ‘feminine’ alternative spellings, such as “Jaimi”, “Jaymee” or “Jaymi” I’m not even going to touch with a ten-foot poll.
**Mom and Dad.