Names Blog

Baby name articles by Jennifer Moss, founder of BabyNames.com. Have a question for Jennifer? E-mail it to question@babynames.com

Two names, Different cultures.

Hi Jennifer,

I am a transgender man and one of the greatest joys of transitioning was getting to choose my own name so that I would feel more “me.” I am now legally Aaron Kai. I chose Aaron because 1) I liked its meaning (exalted, strong) and 2) it is gender neutral when spoken but masculine on paper. Its popularity also coincides with my birth year. I chose Kai because it means “Ocean” and one of my biggest passions is surfing.

I am very happy with my name, however, do you think it is strange to combine a traditionally Hebrew name and Polynesian name as a non-Jewish white guy, or have these names become Americanized enough so that they sound appropriate for my background? For example, I think it might be socioculturally inappropriate for a white man to be named something like Muhammed Enrique or Ezekiel Keoni. Thoughts?

Thanks,
Aaron

Aaron, Oh Aaron

Aaron, Oh, Aaron!

Hi Aaron,

In this day and age it is not culturally inappropriate to combine name ethnicities. Because many people are now culturally combined! Regarding the name Aaron, it is being used across the board by all faiths and cultures in the U.S. Although it is a Hebrew name, it is not perceived as a primarily “Jewish” name in this day and age. As for the name Kai, I actually know a (Caucasian) family who have named their children Hana and Kai because they were enamored with Hawaii and its culture.

I have spoken before about the Native American backlash at white people taking their tribe names as given names. But as far as I know, Polynesians do not take offense. If there are any Polynesian/Hawaiian readers out there that could shed more light on the issue, please write me.

I’m glad you have found a name that suits your passions, interests and personality! Enjoy!

Sincerely,
Jennifer