Name change

Oh frabjous day! Callooh callay! Today my legal name is officially changed from Valerie Aurora Henson to Valerie Anita Aurora. As you may have guessed, Anita is for Anita Borg.

What was wrong with Val Henson? I like “Val” – it’s been my nickname since I was little – but it wasn’t obviously feminine, which put a crimp in my attempts to be a role model for women. I didn’t like Henson because I don’t want to be associated with my biological father, Keith Henson. So I finally got up the gumption (and the cash – $500 total!) to change my name officially.

I’ve begun the migration of my online corpus but gave up on trying to get it all done before announcing my name change. now redirects to and is mostly de-Hensoned, and valerie dot aurora at gmail dot com works, but much remains. I can use advice on picking a new blog hosting service and migrating 919 MB of email from one Gmail account to another. (I started a POP3 migration and gave up 3 days later.)

You can still call me Val, and I won’t be upset if you use Henson accidentally – I’ll certainly be making that mistake a lot myself. In general, please don’t worry about it. Name changes are slow and gradual, as I’m learning myself.


32 thoughts on “Name change

  1. What did you try for the POP3 migration? Set up your new account to pump the emails from the old one? Getting them on a local computer than re-uploading them?

  2. doing the migration via imap may be moderately more successful, but i’d copy it to a local folder, then copy that back to gmail. i’ve moved several hundred megs of mail around over imap before without too much trouble.

    and congrats on the name change :)

  3. Congrats putting that (largely) behind you! May the transition otherwise be smooth once you figure out your email migration.

  4. Congrats (and tech-o-nogical stuffs)

    Congrats on the change… the legal act is so much simpler than everything else, of course. ;-)

    Gmail: You might want to try using offlineimap to do a direct IMAP to IMAP (well, using offlineimap’s Gmail account type, which is just a Gmail-savvy version of IMAP) migration. I’ve been having lots of fun with offlineimap and Gmail recently, seems to work really nicely.

    Blog: if you don’t feel like hosting your own. You could even host your entire (or, perhaps) there if you wanted to.

    I hope changing name is a fun and satisfying adventure… I’ve always wondered. ;-)

    – Jeff Waugh

  5. Congrats on the name change

    I did my part on the Linux Plumbers Planet :)

    < name = Val Henson

    > name = Valerie Aurora

    Best of luck with the name change process; it is a shame that a regex /g doesn’t truly make changes global. Cheers.

  6. I finally got up the gumption (and the cash – $500 total!) to change my name officially.

    Congratulations on your new name. But $500? Yeesh. When I changed my name, it cost £3.50. That’s since risen to £5.00 (it’s limited by law over here).

  7. Congratulations !

    I’ve got just one question; if you dislike that “Val” ain’t obviously feminine, and thus crimps your attempts to be a role-model, does that imply you’d prefer if we stopped refering to you as “Val” ?

    And if yes, what -do- you prefer: Valerie ?

  8. Sure, “formerly known as” is perfect – I want to give people a link between the two names.

    I hadn’t thought of the LJ name-change option, but it seems like departing LJ for my primary blog hosting is the smart thing to do, given corporate-level events.

  9. Er, no – I’d edited a copy of that page and then deleted the wrong copy. I just went through and fixed it again. I left my name unchanged as the author for existing papers but everything else should be gone now. Thanks for pointing it out!

  10. Re: Congratulations !

    I think you shouldn’t worry about it. :) If emphasizing female role-models is important to you, there are a number of ways to go about it: avoiding gender-neutral nicknames and working in gender-specific pronouns are two of the more subtle methods. (Subtle is good here.)

    To be honest, I have no personal preference between Val and Valerie and never have.

  11. There don’t seem to be an awful lot of personal recommendations yet: I am mostly stuck the wisdom of the crowds. Ha. It seems like most people going for self-hosted software are using WordPress at the moment, and if you’re sticking with Dreamhost they can install it for you. I use it in a few places and quite like it. As blog software goes. If you have questions about specific features I can answer them. Aside from that I’ve used Blosxom, which is nice because I like using text editors, but I have the feeling that enabling comments with it would be too much hassle.

    People using hosted services seem to be using Blogger/Blogspot and For long-term ownership purposes I think you can point a personal (sub)domain at, but I am not sure it’s free to do that. (Livejournal has this feature too but only for paid accounts.)

  12. Several of my feminist friends have changed their names. Oddly enough, I know more women who have changed their names than men. Maybe this is less odd because I tend to have more women friends than men. In any case, you are in good company and you are all a class of people I respect for making your names reflect the change you want to see in the world.


  13. Re: Congratulations !

    That’s fine then. I actually don’t really care either. But I do care about not unintentionally stepping on your toes, so that’s why I asked.

  14. For what it’s worth…

    I’m a bloke, but I regard you perhaps not as a role model, but certainly as a source of inspiration and a good example. I hope you don’t mind.

    And I would be quite happy for my daughter and son to consider you a role model.


  15. Journal host

    If you’re still looking for somewhere to move your blog and you’re fine with LJ-ish, there will soon be Dreamwidth, which is a fork of the LJ codebase. They’re committed to being an Open Source-ish community and they’re doing a bunch of work to have a diverse community of coders. (Via Kirrily Robert.)

    I haven’t used them yet, but I’m considering it in some form.

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