My Surname Used To Be Trump - Here's Why I Had To Change It
October 19, 2016
To say that I hate Donald Trump would be something of an understatement. Every time a new headline surfaces, my heart sinks. His casual bigotry, his unending ability to offend and his almost daily off-the-cuff controversies that stoke fears and risk dislocating an already fractured American society, all genuinely disgust me. Like lots of people, I am sick of hearing his bile and seeing his smug, plasticine face plastered over front-pages and television screens. Unlike most however, my reasons run a bit deeper. I don't just disagree with his racist policies, his blatant misogyny, his lies, obfuscation and xenophobia; it's much more than that. For 32 years, I shared the same name as him.
Until recently, I was Dawn Trump.
You see the problem.
Now, let's get this out of the way early: Trump is not the most glamorous of surnames. At best, it's the winning hand in a game of cards, but at worst; well we all know what it is at worst. It's not exactly Coco Chanel. However, despite the connotations, it was the name I learnt to scribble as a toddler, the name I built my career with and most importantly, my family name. 'What is in a name?', people may ask. Well, quite a lot as it goes.
Before 2015, the connection to this man honestly didn't bother me. Sharing my last name with one of the world's most famous billionaires could actually be quite amusing. Friends would take my picture in front of Trump Towers and I'd send it home to my dad, complete with a shit caption. But everything changed when Donald Trump applied for the most high profile job in the world.
'Are you related?' - an innocent question I'd been asked a thousand times before, each time I checked-in to a hotel or boarded a flight - became increasingly loaded. On a recent trip to New York, an air steward verbally attacked me for sharing the same last name when he saw my passport. Not the most professional thing to do, perhaps - but I get it. Trump is divisive.
Having something so personal become so indelibly linked to a man I despised reached a head last December, when he called for a 'total and complete shutdown' of US borders to all Muslims. As someone who's interviewed mothers who fled Syria, who's seen the desperate conditions they live in now, who's witnessed the way they try to comfort their traumatised kids, Trump's rhetoric feels almost violent. To some people, this ratcheting up of prejudiced policy-making was a game-changer. For me, it became a name-changer. Enough was enough. I wanted to be rid of any association with this man and so I filled-in some forms and changed my name forever.
Choosing a new name was difficult and not something I thought I'd ever do. While I totally respect a woman's choice to take her partner's name, changing my name for a man wasn't an idea I personally ever felt comfortable with. I couldn't imagine ever switching identities for a man. Oh Donald, how you've changed me.
I decided my new name should come from my two grandmothers - Rose became my middle name and Kelly became my last name. I like that I've strengthened my connection with the women in my family. Up yours DT - women rule.
The hardest part was telling my parents. As liberal as they are, it was tricky telling them that I would no longer be sharing their name - and with no son-in-law to boot! I did what any self-respecting 32-year-old would do when armed with big news, I sent them a text. My parents were understandably annoyed. Though, I later found out the main source of their anger was receiving my message at the same time their garden fence had fallen down. Just as Donald Trump was promising to erect a new one for America.
The problem is, I don't just disagree with what the man says, or that he plays on people's fears and uses prejudice as a means to make political capital. The problem is, I believe he is a genuinely dangerous political force, whose idiotic ramblings undoubtedly offend, but may also cause real harm. If he wins this presidential election, the most awesome military power the world has ever seen will have as a Commander-in-Chief a man who doesn't just seem to be a corrupt politician - he seems to be a genuinely amoral and corrupt human being.
If he wins, there's a chance that the name 'Trump' will no longer just be associated with a venal buffoon who has a habit of offending people and sports a hair-piece that makes Wayne Rooney look like Samson. It's possible that the name will become inextricably linked to hate, division and intolerance and the ushering in of a period of global instability and discord.
I won't be associated with a monster who legitimises hate.