It must have been late in the morning or early in the afternoon one day in the fall of 1996. I think it was 1996, the first year I attended the University of Oregon, though it could have been 1995. The year, though, is not nearly as relevant as what I was doing.

I walked into one of the computer labs near the bus station just off of 13th street. I sat down at a computer terminal which consisted of a small screen that only displayed green letters on a background and a keyboard. Being a new student at the university I'd never logged in to the school's network before so I pulled out my notebook where the directions were and proceeded to setup my "Duck" account. And what was the first step but choosing a user name, a name I'd be stuck with for the next two or three years?

I didn't want to use my given name. I didn't much care for it and there were too many old memories attached to it. I'd used a number of pseudonyms over the years. Jean-Luc Pascal, for French class in high school. I also used to privately refer to myself as MWGH or the "Man With the Green Hat". When I played online video games I logged onto games as "Cracker", a little reverse racist prod at myself, and years later I'd come to refer to my gaming presence as "Youth In Asia" or "YIA" (you can find those initials throughout the '99 Dynamix game Starsiege). I needed a new start. So I wracked my brain and the first thing that came to my mind was Aslynn.


It was the name I'd given to a character in a short story I'd written. When I wasn't sure what that character's name should be my fiancé had suggested Aslan, from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I'd never read that book nor did I know the story but I liked the uniqueness of the name and, in the fashion that's typical of me, misspelled it-or reinvented it for my character and then later for myself.

I have used the name Aslynn ever since. I was then I became E-mail addresses changed but always it was Aslynn @ wherever until one day, a few years back, I got fed up and wanted a home that wasn't going to change when I left one school for another or moved or one ISP was bought out by another. So I fork out a little extra cash each month and I have a home I can rely on to always be there:

So why would I ask to be called Aslynn?

The name Aslynn says a great deal about me.

I like the name, both the way it sounds and the way it's spelled. By choosing a name instead of simply accepting a given one I'm consciously acknowledging that I'm less the kind of person that feels I'm stuck with the hand life's given me but am interested in choosing my past, my present, and my future more and more every day. I'm also the kind of guy who's not afraid of his emotional or "feminine" side; yes, I'm heterosexual (I like girls-a lot!), but I feel that a balanced person has equal amounts of "masculine" and "feminine" attributes; on psychological tests of gender I typically score all over the board averaging out somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. The name fits me.

The name Aslynn says a great deal about you.

A few examples… Though my profile's always list me as male I've still had men hit on me-so the name has allowed me to avoid people who don't pay attention, especially and in particular those that don't have manners. Others have responded to the name with sexist or "genderist" comments, attitudes I don't find enlightened or indicative of people I want to welcome into my relatively small circle of trusted friends. There have been more than a few that have outright criticized me and called me egotistical and pompous for using a chosen name, as if there's some law in the Bible or something that says, "Thou shalt not choose they own name for it is God and thy parents that have Christened thee." And last but definitely not least there are those that call me by my given name though I've repeatedly requested to be called Aslynn-and always the name issue was only a warning sign that said persons had difficulties listening and respecting others' requests and personal boundaries.

And then there are those that simply call me Aslynn. They know my given name. Some of them even knew me and called me that name for years before I'd even chosen to use the name Aslynn. And yet they call me Aslynn and I never once had to ask them to. Can you imagine how that makes me feel or how much I respect them for it?

What do you choose to call me?