Yes, Davis is My First Name: An FAQ
There’s a conversation I need to have with the world if I’m going to keep writing publicly online.
It’s not that I shy away from this dialogue, necessarily. It’s just that I am already comfortable with my side of the story, and I forget that anything is weird or different or even actually correctable to anyone else. That is, until something goes awry and I realize more communication is in order.
So to clarify this matter: my name is Davis Erin Anderson. My first name is Davis. And I get that this is confusing, I really do. I thought an FAQ might help.
The following are questions, or variations thereof, that I have been asked in the past.
Q: What should I call you?
A: My name, in writing and when said out loud, is Davis Erin Anderson.
My first name is, simply, Davis. Even though Erin is the most obviously feminine element here, I don’t go (nor have I ever gone) by Erin. And I prefer not to be addressed that way, if it can be helped.
Q: Davis is a last name!
I know! Sometimes it is. But it’s my first name, and I really like it.
Q: Isn’t that a boy’s name?
A: Not necessarily. There are Davises of all genders out there. And anyway, I don’t see how that matters.
Q: Where’d you get your name?
A: We have a family friend named Davis and my parents thought his name sounded cool, so they went with it. They chose Aaron or Erin as my middle name so they were covered no matter who I turned out to be.
Q: Are you sure your parents didn’t want a boy?
A: That’s an insulting question.
Q: Are you Southern? I’ve heard giving girls their mother’s maiden name is really common in the South.
A: I’m from Illinois. My mom’s last name is Goering. I have heard that before. Sounds like a neat practice.
Q: Have you always included your middle name?
A: No. I changed my name to Davis Erin Anderson in 2010 when I was working in a customer service capacity. I figured it might tip people off that I’m a woman and therefore spare me high-grade awkwardness when they reached me on the phone after an email exchange. (It didn’t really work. I live a sociological experiment.)
Q: So your initials are DEA then? That’s intense.
A: Yeah, I know. In better news, if my initials were music, DEA is a very conclusive and pleasing IV-V-I cadence. They’re even in a sharp key, which sounds great when played by an orchestra.
Q: Does your name have an anagram?*
Yes! It is: Drive On! Sand Is Near
Questions I wish I’d been asked go something like “hey, we’re publishing an article with your name in it! How would you like to be represented?” and “thank you for speaking at our event! How would you like to appear in our program?” and “thanks for registering for our conference. How would you like your name to appear on your badge?” Alas!
Most of the questions in the FAQ above are welcome. In fact, I very much appreciate it when people ask me these questions, instead of quietly wondering or making sweeping assumptions that end up butchering my name in a more public forum. I’ve even had “Davis” — and, more commonly, “Erin” — left out entirely.
So please. Please refer to the above. Or just ask! I promise to be kind (unless you are a jerk about it).
*Okay, no one has directly asked me this. I just think that’s a fun anagram.