Issues with my Name


“Boys are straight up and down and girls are round all around”

This phrase has stuck in my mind since the very first day I heard it. What this is referring to is the difference in spelling of a seemingly feminine name.

Before we get into name calling I want to briefly explain a bit of family history. My great grandma was one of the original settlers of California. Her and her father walked up from Mexico to settle-in in California. Like many Mexican American families living in the US the Latin heritage was slowly lost. First thing to go is the native language. Next thing to go is the sense of brotherhood. My family had become what I like to refer to as “whitewashed”.

To be assimilated into the N.A society, forgetting your own language and culture and tries to act like a white person to gain acceptance. Looked down upon both of the cultures he/she supposedly belongs in.

My grandma(rest in peace) was of very white complexion which made it a lot easier for her to fit-in in a white man’s world. With the best intentions in the world she raised me like a rich white boy. I went to horse riding lessons, swimming lessons, the best private schools. I don’t regret any of it because it has made me who I am today.

So now to the bad words…the first and second name that appear on my birth certificate read Francisco Xavier. My dad’s name is Francisco and his dad the same and it goes on for several generations. I must admit my dad is whitewashed as well. Maybe not as much but he is. That’s probably because he is as dark as I am and skin color still plays a big part in today’s society. If you haven’t already noticed I am rambling on and on trying to stall the release of the name I so dread. My family decided to try and break the Francisco chain of Latin men and refer to me as Francis. There it is I said it FRANCIS! It would have been OK if that was my “at home” name but my parents decided to register me at school with the name Francis. You can only imagine the amount of bullying and name calling I had to deal with growing up.

As soon as I moved to Costa Rica I was able to drop that name and use Francisco. Since then I am known as Francisco or Frank for short. But every once in a while when i am around old and new friends , it never fails that someone refers to me as Francis and I get a couple of weird looks from new friends.

The only thing that distinguishes the name Francis as a male is the spelling. The female version of the name even though pronounced the same is spelled Frances. Hence the quote I started with:

“Boys are straight up and down and girls are round all around”

The whole reason I even bring this up today is because I found it quite ironic that the Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio took the Papal name of Pope Francis the I. I guess my “given name” is one of prestige and honor. Even more so now that it is considered a Papal name.

I’m glad I got this off my chest. Now the whole world knows my dirty secret :).



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