What’s in a name? A term of endearment? A nickname?
And is it ever your responsibility to change it because someone else doesn’t like it? What about if the reason they don’t like it comes from legitimate trauma?
One Reddit user, who opted to go by nicknamethrowaway_1, found herself caught in the middle of a nickname conundrum with a classmate.
She turned to the AITA (“Am I The A**hole?”) subReddit for answers. Before we get into her post, let’s talk about how things work.
The AITA subReddit asks people to essentially vote on who is being the total jerkface in a situation. People cast their votes and explain why they feel that way. The overall consensus sits at the top of the screen.
Voting Options Are:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
So let’s get into her post.
“So for as long as I can remember, my nickname has been Midge (you know, like the bug). Apparently I learnt the word at nursery and refused to reply to anything other than Midge.”
“I’m 17 now and the nickname has stuck all these years. Friends and family refer to me as Midge.”
“Onto the story: in case you are unaware the word ‘midget’ is being considered a slur against people with dwarfism and people are (rightfully) calling those out who use the word in a negative manner. I agree with this.”
“There’s a girl in my class (Jane) who has dwarfism who seems to have an issue with my nickname. One day she text me and told me that my nickname could be considered offensive and that I should stop using it.”
“I tried to explain that I’m named after the bug, but she wasn’t having it. She kept ragging on me and eventually I just muted her and tried to forget about it.”
“The next day one of my friends referred to me as Midge and within the hour Jane asked to speak to me privately. She burst into tears and explained that she was bullied relentlessly as a kid and called ‘midget’ and other horrible words.”
“She told me that my nickname is offensive to her. I apologised (to diffuse the situation) and once again explained that I’m named after the bug so I will not be changing my nickname. She got super upset which made me super upset and anxious.”
“EDIT: ‘Midge’ is pronounced the same way Moe says it in the Simpsons, but our Northern Yorkshire accents make it sounds more like ‘Medge’. (had to change how I described my accent because apparently it made my post sound fake).”
People really sympathized with Jane, but the Original Poster (OP) has been nicknamed Midge after the tiny bug for her whole life.
Let’s take a look at some thoughts from Reddit.
“Midge became midget, it’s literally the etymology of the word. And people use midge instead of midget regularly.”
“I can see how it may upset the girl, but that’s like being upset that someone has your deadname. Yes it’s frustrating, but its still a name someone else has and you gotta learn to deal with that. NAH.” – Cosmic_Hitchhiker
“If she’s triggered she really needs to see an expert. Your nickname is after a bug.”
“Just by hearing a simple word, she started crying so obviously she has some sort of a trauma or she’s paranoid that people are actually calling her instead of you.”
“But this is not your fault and you don’t have to change your nickname. NTA” – CarelessAppearance37
“It sounds like a lot of misplaced trauma coming out. OP, if you really want to resolve this, I recommend asking your teacher or school counselor to set up a moderated meeting between the two of you.”
“Jane can express her experience and feelings about the word midget (and the teacher can assure her they will not allow bullying in their class) and you can express that you understand and empathize, but that is not what your name refers to, and it’s unfair of her to ask you to change it. Hopefully, with the teacher’s guidance, this can end with some kind of mutual understanding.”
“I’ll go with NAH, unless Jane continues to bug (ha) you about it, in which case she would be the AH.” – JuliaOfOceania
“Are people not allowed to order a burger within earshot of someone with Aspergers? Can you not order a small sized drink from Starbucks near a person who’s insecure about their height? Are you TA if you buy roses and someone with rosacea happens to see you?”
“Words exist. And sometimes they sound like other words. Trauma sucks, but trying to shape the world around you to eliminate all potential triggers is both impossible and entitled.”
“Recovery from trauma is about relearning how to live your life free from the constant negative effects of that trauma. It sounds like OPs friend hasn’t done that important recovery work yet, which is in no way OP’s fault.”
“NTA and gently suggest she consider therapy. Don’t change your nickname—it would be enabling, and might actually hinder her recovery.” – Kathrynlena
“Isn’t the main character from ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ named ‘Midge’? Her name is actually Miriam, but everyone calls her Midge. This is a totally normal nickname. A little less heard of than others, but not less normal.”
“But I feel for your classmate/friend, Jane. She is probably getting a bit of a PTSD feeling every time she hears someone call out to you in class. ‘Hey Midge!’ She probably twitches every time she hears that, thinking the bullying is starting up again.”
“This is not your responsibility, but is there some way that you can make her feel better? Not dropping the nickname, obviously. That is part of your identity. But this is tough.”
“If she is otherwise a nice person, could you include her in your group? Maybe if she realizes that the people in her class aren’t at all like the same AH who used to tease and bully her, she will be able to let go of her fixation with your nickname.” – NotSoAverage_sis
“I *am* a little person, and midget wasn’t a slur until recently. It was the polite word for things for the longest time. She needs to get over herself. NTA.” – peliquin
“NTA – Her requests are unreasonable for several reasons:”
“1) That’s YOUR nickname, nobody is calling HER that.”
“2) Midge is a common diminutive for Margaret.”
“3) It’s not the same word.”
“4) She is not harmed by people calling you by the name you’ve used the majority of your life.” – NomadicusRex
There’s no clear a**holes involved in this scenario, but there’s also no clear solution. Hopefully the OP can figure something out to preserve her friendship with Jane.