A deeper commitment to a spiritual path. Marking the emergence from life-threatening illness. A celebration of individuality.
All these and more are cited by area residents who have used the legal process to change something fundamental they carried from birth — their names.
Some modifications are subtle. Court records show that in the past nine months, Jean Theresa Bovine went to Jeanne Theresa Bovine. Some were more radical, such as Paul Seton Newer rebooting as Drake Alexander Wynn.
Clerk of Courts Debra Crosser said 10 or 15 years ago, Boulder County saw more name changes that, on the face of it, seemed “far out.”
More recently, she said, “Most of the time, it is that they are going back to their maiden name, they are changing their first name, or at some point, somehow on a passport or something there was a misspelling that occurred.”
For the past decade, the number of such petitions filed has fluctuated in Boulder County between about 150 and 250 a year.
Name change requirements
FBI and CBI: Background checks must be completed.
Petition filed in county court: Proof of those background checks, with fingerprints, must be submitted with the court petition, which in Boulder County carries a $100 filing fee.
Appearing before, and obtaining approval from, a county court judge: Such hearings are typically routine, and a judge may ask questions to ensure there is no attempt to defraud.
Legal notice: Upon approval by the court, a legal notice must be published in a local newspaper on three consecutive days. The Daily Camera charges $75 for this.
In marriage and divorce cases: In the event of a divorce, the process outlined above is not necessary, if reverting to a maiden name is provided for in the divorce decree, which is common practice. A name change following marriage can be achieved through the Social Security Administration, with verification by a marriage certificate.
And not uncommon in Boulder County are name changes that appear to be from one gender to another. Close to a dozen such examples have run in the Daily Camera’s legal notices in recent months, and several that were reviewed more closely through court records were confirmed as having been filed by transgendered individuals.
Changing one’s name in Colorado — outside of a divorce case, where it’s usually accomplished by a judge’s decree — requires both a petition to be filed and approved in county court and a legal notice to be run in a local newspaper, each of those affording public exposure to the change in identity.
Several people chose not to comment on what motivated them to shed the name under which they entered the world. Petitions filed with the clerk’s office, however, require those seeking the change to offer a reason, and a review of numerous petitions showed a wide range of reasons offered.
Jayson C. Cannon, of Boulder, for example, switched to Zenith Viceroy Stellar, listing his rationale simply as “entertainer, artist & professional consultant.”
Diving more deeply into the world of personal rebranding revealed more complex stories.
‘Being honest about who you are’
Olfuss Naslund Ratatosksson jumped at the chance to explain his change to a name that doesn’t immediately flow right off the tip of the tongue. He saw it as an opportunity to draw attention to his religious practice.
For years, Ratatosksson has been delving more deeply into his chosen faith, which he said is Asatru.
Ratatosksson said “Asatru literally means, ‘true to the Gods.’ We follow a faith of Norse-pagansim.” He also used the terms “Odinist” and “Norse-heathen” to describe his belief system.
“The word ‘heathen’ comes from the word ‘heath’ — people who live outside Christianity, out on the borders, on the fringe. It was termed that, and later became a slang term,” said the Broomfield resident. “Some call us ‘godless heathens,’ but we have more gods than most.”
For his first 33 years on Earth, he was Julius Ian Stoakes. Of that name, Ratatosksson, who was adopted, said, “It has never been something I was proud to wear, and I was never comfortable with it.”
The further he pursued his chosen faith, he said, the more he wanted a name that reflected the path he said he has been on for 17 years.
The final impetus to change, he said, came from “a single sentence on a page I read. It addressed courage, and the failure that a lot of us face in being courageous, in showing the world what our true religion is. It really blew the doors open.”
It has felt tremendously freeing to settle on the identity that connects to what he feels is his true self, Ratatosksson said. He prominently promotes his faith, and his own local “tribe” on his personal Facebook page.
“When you’re not being honest about who you are, and what you are, you don’t make deep relationships with people,” he said. “The heathens, the pagans, the Asatru heathen, we’re the most religious talking, acting, doing people you will meet.
“It’s 24/7 for us; it’s a huge part of our life. It is what we are, and when you’re unable to really use that and identify as that in the open arenas, you close down. It shut shuts you off. It closed me down for a long period of time.”
Ratatosksson mentioned the March 19, 2013, ambush murder of Colorado prisons superintendent Tom Clements by former inmate Evan Ebel, who had listed his religion as Asatru, which investigators have said has factions that extol Aryan supremacy.
“When somebody does something stupid or horrible, and it gets media attention, and they’re Christian, that’s not interesting to the public,” he said. “It’s whenever anybody identifies as an Odinist or an Asatru, that’s the first thing you see — even though they probably aren’t. These guys don’t even know what it is.”
And, he added, “The race thing is not important to most of us. Sure, bloodlines and heritage and stuff, but it’s not a racial issue. We have people of all nationalities coming into this and looking for a path.”
Ratatosksson works at Boulder’s Spectra Logic, the data storage products manufacturer, and he has found his identity switch has been well received there.
“Aside from not being able to pronounce my last name, everybody has been really cool about it,” he said. “They have been very open and accepting here, as a culture.”
Ratatosksson claims status as acting gothi, “the equivalent of a spiritual leader” within his small tribe, Samband, whose logo states “in service of Gods and Folk.”
Noting that his belief system draws those with the “warrior” spirit, he quickly added, “We’re not Vikings.”
He rides a motorcycle, as many of his “kindred” do, he said. “That mentality fits with who we are. That freedom, and the desire to be in nature. I wouldn’t say we hug trees. But we definitely respect them.”
After serious illness, previous name ‘didn’t fit’
Allyson Marie Edmonds, just a few years ago, was dying.
Tonsillitis, a series of viruses and related maladies had caused her to lose the ability to consume anything but liquids, she said, for two and a half years.
“Essentially every body system was starting to shut down,” recalled the 43-year-old Lyons resident, now legally named Qiyra Marie. “I made a couple of trips to the Mayo Clinic, and they pretty much said, ‘Yes, everything is shutting down, post-viral fatigue syndrome, and good luck.'”
At that time, Marie’s two daughters were about 5 and 7, she said, “And I just knew that dying wasn’t an option.”
Through healing work she pursued that included “trauma release” and targeted the “psycho-emotional component” of her ailments, she started working through her physical issues, Marie said.
“As I was getting better, I felt like the name Allyson didn’t fit anymore, so I asked my friend, I said, ‘I’d really like a new name. If anything comes to mind, would you please share it with me?'”
That was in 2010. And Marie’s friend, whose own name she preferred to keep private, and whom she described as having “since left his body,” came up with Qiyra. He told her he’d “heard” it “etherically.” She said it has multicultural origins, and that her friend translated it as meaning “the animating force behind the nature of music, dancing and healing.”
“It was so right on with where I was in life and where my interests are that I began using it. But it wasn’t until just in the past year that I legally changed it,” she said.
Marie, who works as a physical therapist, yoga and dance instructor and is starting to work toward certification as a life coach, said reaction in her family was mixed.
“With my parents, there’s hurt feelings,” she said. “A lot of people went through something with me changing my first name — a lot of possessiveness around that. ‘We gave you that. How dare you change it?’ Like, there was an ownership. Their feelings were very hurt, and I never, ever intended to hurt anyone.”
Marie added, “This was all about me. It wasn’t out of resentment, or hatred; none of that was there at all. It was all about me needing to embrace myself and love who I am.”
She shares 50-50 custody of her two daughters, ages 12 and 10, with her ex-husband, who lives in Longmont. It is his surname, Edmonds, which she dropped, with her middle name becoming her last name.
“He was OK with it,” she said. “He was very supportive when I changed to Qiyra, as well. I’m very blessed to have an ex who is a great friend and a big heart.”
As for her girls?
“They were like, ‘We don’t care. We know who we are, we know who you are, but we don’t care,'” Marie said.
In fact, inspired after a family Christmas trip to Hawaii a couple of years ago, the youngest daughter changed her own first name, legally, from Mary — she’d been called Molly — to Malea.
Looking the part, long before name switch
For the former Chandra Elizabeth Fudge, formally going to Pinque Chandra Noire was a natural step. She’d been pink for quite some time already.
“I’ve pretty much been called ‘Pink’ for the last 10 years of my life,” said the 31-year-old Longmont resident.
She’s been dying her naturally blonde hair that color since she was about 16, she said.
“I love the color pink to the point of obsession,” Noire confessed. “I’m a really creative person, and I really like being outside the norm.”
Noire said that Fudge had been her married name, and when her first husband committed suicide in 2005, she started considering a name change as part of the process of putting that sadness behind her.
“I’m a really creative person, and I’m really unique, and I wanted something that fit my personality and who I am,” said Noire, who also expressed a love of color.
“I wanted a really unique name, and a friend told me that ‘noire’ was French for black,” she said. “It just clicked, and I thought, ‘That’s perfect.’ I decided that’s what I wanted my name to be.”
Noire remarried in February, and she said her husband, Ashly Willingham, has always called her Pinque.
“He has never called me Chandra once. Pinque has just been my name, so I thought it was just time to make it my legal name. I kept Chandra as my middle name in case I ever wanted to go back to it.”
Noire works an overnight shift at IBM in technical support and is pursuing a degree in religious studies online through American Military University by day. She said what she hopes to do is “help people and work in nonprofit, and change the world for the better.”
She admits her father was a bit disappointed that she didn’t return to her maiden name, Bradford. Noire’s mother expressed surprise she dropped her given middle name of Elizabeth, which had honored a grandmother.
“My mother felt like I would have a strong connection to it,” Noire said. “And it’s not like I didn’t. But I am really different.
“I just have to be me.”
Contact Camera Staff Writer Charlie Brennan at 303-473-1327 or email@example.com.