As transgender people, one of the most defining moments is when it comes to choosing a new name for ourselves. We all tend to come at the process from different places. If your parents are accepting and still in your life, you could ask them what you would have been named had you been assigned a different sex at birth, but that doesn’t always work out the way you would want it to. For others, it is a decision that is entirely on them and there is a great amount of thought that goes into it. There are also those who are fortunate to already have a gender-neutral sounding name, or they don’t care what gender society associates with their birth name, so no change is necessary.
When it came to choosing my own my name, I looked at it from many different angles. I had already known what name my mother would have chosen for me. It was also the name of her best friend, and because we were both uncomfortable with the thought of it, we avoided that particular discussion altogether. I was going to figure this one out on my own.
I knew I didn’t want to have a name that anyone else I knew had personally. That really narrowed down the list for me. My concern was having anyone wonder why I would choose their name. It felt weird to me and I really didn’t want to go there. I also wanted my name to have some sort of energy connected to my deadname, even though today I cringe when I hear it. There were the typical versions of that name, but I knew too many people with them, so I decided to go a different route.
My wife had liked Mia and I kind of liked it as well, but a friend of ours had just named her daughter Mia, so that was out. Finally after thinking about it a little more, I settled on Mila. All the letters had been in my deadname (I won’t say it but I am sure you can figure it out). I also didn’t know anyone else with the name other than the actresses Mila Kunis and Mila Jovovich, and that seemed like good company to be in. For a while I thought about Mila Jade, but my wife said the name sounded too much like an adult film star’s name. So I decided to go with just Mila. It brought a smile to my face every time I heard it, and without a doubt I felt like a Mila. There it was, Mila Madison.
"..IF YOU HAVE READ ANY OF MY PREVIOUS STORIES, YOU KNOW MY LIFE HAS BEEN A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE MISSTEPS, STRANGE OCCURRENCES, AND BAD TIMING.."
So I did a quick search on Google and nothing unusual came up, so I was all good to go and started my name change paperwork. Now, if you have read any of my previous stories, you know my life has been a series of unfortunate missteps, strange occurrences, and bad timing, but somehow things end up working out. My name change would be no exception.
I had gone through the name change process, received my court order of approval, and posted my new name in the local paper as required. I was now just waiting for my new birth certificate. Little did I know at the time that I would spend the next nine months battling to be allowed to come out at my job, so any announcement of my new name was on hold. I never thought I would end up being a writer, running a community center, an activist, or even going back to the music business one day. My plan was really to skip town and start all over, so how my name was viewed was publicly was not even a thought.
"NOW WHEN THE ISSUE WAS RESOLVED AND I WAS OUT TO THE PUBLIC, EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH MY NAME HAD “XXX” ATTACHED TO IT. "
Eventually the job situation would work out. By then, events in my life had changed my perspective. I was now fully out and writing for Transgender Universe. It was something I had never planned to do, but there I was, out for everyone to see. It was at this time when it all went wrong. I had done a Google search to see if any of my stories were showing up, and there she was. Every search result came up with an adult film actress named Mila Madison. It appears that while I was fighting with my job, this other Mila Madison had been making a name for herself in the adult film industry. This was just my luck. It was if those early comments made by my wife about the name I didn’t end up using had somehow come back full circle to taunt me. All the time I had spent waiting on my job, the thought of my name was on the backburner. Now when the issue was resolved and I was out to the public, everything associated with my name had “XXX” attached to it.
Now I have absolutely no problems with adult films or people in that industry. My only concern was that I wouldn’t be taken seriously or that people would somehow think that this was me. It would end up being something that I still hear about to this day. It is usually when I bring up the story. At that point most people say, “Yeah, I Googled your name once and saw all these porn listings, but I didn’t want to say anything.” I get it; it is not like when you Google an Airbnb that you are supposed to be staying at and Google maps shows an empty lot because the location was photographed before the place was built. In that case, everyone tells you what is wrong with the search. In my case everyone just noticed, snickered and said nothing unless I brought it up.
So the challenge of the time would be whether the Writer Mila Madison would be able to overtake the Adult Film Actress Mila Madison in the Google search rankings. I knew I had one advantage going for me; I could write articles at a much faster pace than she could make adult films, so that is what I did. Eventually I would win out for the most part, though I still get a laugh or comment about it from time to time.
I am not sure what happened to the other Mila Madison, but I do wish her all the best. As I get older, I realize that there is room in the world for both of us. In the end I couldn’t care less whether people think I used to be an adult film actress or not, and I certainly don’t care where my name comes up in the search results anymore. All I care about now is being who I am, and I don’t apologize for it. I guess as always, in the strangest of ways, things just found a way of working themselves out.