Why I Legally Changed My First Name from Debra to Kaitlin

Except for my mother, most people, including my father, helped me make the awkward transition from my initial birth name, Debra,  to the name I chose, Kaitlin.

At the time, most people did not ask why out loud, though I have discovered many people held on to the question because they have since asked.

The problem, other than people using their imaginations to speculate why, and not always in a flattering light, is for the longest time I could not even explain all of my reasons. What has finally made me capable of doing so now is because I am writing my story I have titled Carpenter’s Daughter and my name change is part of that story–a part I believe I need to share now.

As with the book I am writing, the name change was about me–not about anyone else. The name change was born out of cathartic process to help me move past the traumatically wounded, chameleon-like person I had become to please people and stay safe. This book is my final cathartic device that needs to be shared to help other people experiencing similar traumas because I finally feel healed and whole.

But, let us get back to the name change reasoning.

As you can read from the Wikipedia post below, there are many variations for the historical name, Deborah, one of which became Debra, the name my parents chose for me. My classrooms were filled with those variations; sometimes there were even six of us in a class. Unbeknownst to my parents, attending Catholic schools from grade one to grade eights, the spelling of my first name was not always received well by teaching nuns since some considered Deborah as the correct spelling as it is in the Bible.

Personally, I did not like the variations people used to call me because it seemed many people wanted to call me what they wanted to call me instead of my actual name Debra by the way it sounds when spelled. Many people could not spell my first name or my last name, Trepanier, right either.

When I married the first time at sixteen, I became Debbie Smith, which was fine, that is, until my husband’s family started calling me Big Debbie, I was five foot nine, almost, and my husband’s younger brother’s wife name was Debbie, not much over five feet too, so they called her Little Debbie so they could distinguish between us when they were talking about us.

Teased, tormented, and disrespected for other reasons you can read about in my upcoming book, at first, I only contemplated what a name change would entail, but by the time I hit my “dark night of the soul” in my late thirties, not making the name change seemed a self-inflicted cruelty I could avert.

Deborah (given name)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The prophetess Deborah as imagined by Gustave Doré.
Gender Female
Word/name Hebrew
Meaning Bee
Other names
Nickname(s) Deb, Debs, Debby,
Related names Deb, Debby, Debbie, Debra, Melissa (Greek), Erlea (Basque)

Deborah (Hebrew: דְבוֹרָה‎) is a feminine given name derived from דבורה D’vorah, a Hebrew word meaning “bee.” Deborah was a heroine and prophetess in the Old Testament Book of Judges. In the United States, the name was most popular from 1950 to 1970, when it was among the 20 most popular names for girls. It was the 25th most common name for women in the United States in the 1990 census. It has since fallen in popularity. It ranked as the 780th most popular name for baby girls born in 2007 in the United States, down from 676th most popular name in 2006.[1]

The name is Déborah in French, Débora in Portuguese and Spanish, Debora in Italian and Czech.


Kate was a young woman I met in my late teens. She was the opposite of the quiet me. Vivacious, bold, and confident her laughter filled the air along with her jests and I wanted to be more like her rather than the increasingly quiet timid soul I had become.

But I did not want to be called Kate because it was too abrupt and harsh like Deb, the name most people called me, even when I said my name was Debbie, which had become the commonest version of Debra.

When I married at twenty one, my last name became Webber and I became Debbie Webber. After I began my healing path venture that was near the end of my second marriage of nineteen years, I stumbled across the realization I really did not like being called Debbie Webber. The name sounded childish to me and I did not want it any more. Neither name reflected how I felt inside.

I had been hoping, even expecting I would marry again and would take his last name, but I did not know when, so to me the thing to do was to finally change my first name.

In researching the name Kate, I discovered its origin, Catherine, a name I had always liked, but it did not speak to me. Kaitlin did though. And when I discovered  the origins of Caitlin, I knew it was the right choice because it would also honour my mother and her Irish heritage in the same way my father’s last name honoured his French heritage.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Caitlin (pronounced [ˈkatʲlʲiːnʲ]) is a female given name of Irish origin. It is the Irish version of the Old French name Cateline [katlin], which comes from Catherine, which in turn comes from the Ancient Greek Αἰκατερίνη (Aikaterine). Catherine is attributed to St. Catherine of Alexandria.[1] Along with the many other variants of Catherine, it is generally believed to mean “pure” because of its long association with the Greek adjective καθαρός katharos (pure), though the name did not evolve from this word.[2]

Historically, the name was only anglicized as Cathleen or Kathleen. In the 1970s, however, non-Irish speakers began pronouncing the name as /ˈkeɪtlɪn/ KAYT-lin, which led to many variations in spelling.[3][4][5]

As it turns out, there are also many variations now of Kaitlin, especially since it became a common name in the last several years, so the odds of someone spelling my name right are ironically few and far between. Add the fact I did not remarry as hoped, I also chose to revert to my maiden name Trepanier in 2008, making for more confusion for people, but made sense to me. I could not see keeping the last name any longer of a husband I divorced in 1997.

And that’s that. There is no dark, lurid, or criminal past I am trying to cover. There is no one I am hiding from. The reason for the changes are personal, part of my healing process, and the reclamation of my identity. Will I revert to my original name Debra? I do not know. I have considered it. My mother would love it if I did, but love her as I do, I think I will just send her a copy of this post. But I do not think so, even though I recognize Debra as a beautiful name bore by a Biblical heroine and prophetess that was given to me by my parents because of their love for me. However, I like the name Kaitlin. It is both strong and soft, plus its meaning “pure” reflects the person I became–pure of heart, freed from trauma that imprisoned me for most of my life.


Writer, Founder and President of Connecting The Dots With The Respect Principle

Smashwords interview @  www.smashwords.com

© All Rights Reserved 2014-2019 

October 16, 2019





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