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Are Renaming Ceremonies Actually a Trend?

Caitlyn Jenner
Photo Courtesy of E!

According to The New York Times they are. 

The New York Times has an infamously bad track record with trend pieces. From declaring that the monocle is back in fashion, to discovering that there is life south of 59th Street, the headlines to trend pieces in the Times often read like the start of The Onion stories. (For a more complete list of NYT Trend piece fails, might I recommend The Times Is On It, a twitter devoted to chronicling The Gray Lady's false steps).

Last week, in its Styles section, The Timesdeclared that renaming ceremonies are the hot new thing with trans people.

"Renaming ceremonies are gaining visibility among transgender people, especially since Caitlyn Jenner showcased hers in the season finale of I Am Cait, the E! reality show, which was recently renewed for a second season," asserts writer Hannah Seligson, who cites a handful of incidents in her piece.

This leads us jaded journalist-types to wonder, Is this for real or is the Times just being the Times?

A cursory Google search of the topic "renaming ceremony" finds entries for renaming ceremonies for your boat/yacht (apparently doing so can lead to bad luck for the vessel and its seamen). Furthermore, only Jenner's ceremony is cited in articles other than the Times. The piece does cite Felix Endara, a New York filmmaker who is at work on a short documentary called Untitled Trans*Names, about how trans people choose their names. It also has quotes from two trans women who ritualized a name change with their religious organizations.

So, are renaming ceremonies on track to be a part of the coming out experience of trans men and women or is this just a passing semi-trend that was conveniently orchestrated for a reality series? Let us know what you think.

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Alex Panisch