Kelly and Wayne gradually become more lenient with Wyatt’s gender expression, now allowing him wear all the feminine clothes he wanted. They also decide that it might be an appropriate time for a name change. Wyatt chooses the name Nicole, after a character from one of his favorite TV shows.
Just as in the previous chapter, in which Kelly refers to Wyatt with feminine pronouns and nouns, changing Wyatt’s name to Nicole provides a shift in others’ thinking. It allows people to better understand Wyatt’s gender identity and think of him as the girl that he feels he is.
Kelly discovers, however, that any official name change in Maine is by law announced in the newspaper. Kelly wants to keep this change out of the public eye, particularly because of the anti-gay, anti-transgender, and politically active Christian Civic League of Maine. She wants to make sure to protect Wyatt from their harassment.
Although Kelly is not ashamed of having a transgender child, it is important to her to keep this information out of the public view in order to avoid potential discrimination and harassment from the Christian Civic League.
Kelly and Wayne file a petition to have the name change kept from the newspaper. They appear in court in front of an elderly judge, who asks why they’re changing their son’s name to a girls’ name. Their lawyer explains that Wyatt is transgender, and that the Maineses want to keep the change private because of recent protests by the Christian Civic League. The judge counters that maybe the Christian Civic League should “have their say.”
The judge’s line of questioning implies that he, too, bears the same kind of prejudice and might agree with the Christian Civic League. Yet the Maineses, too, are making judgments based on the judge’s appearance, as they acknowledge when he rules in their favor.
At this statement, Wayne stands and speaks in front of the judge. He explains that Wyatt had been expressing feelings that he was a girl since he was two, and they are convinced now that he should be allowed to transition to living as a girl. Kelly is amazed: Wayne has finally admitted that he agrees with Kelly and wants Wyatt to make a full transition. Kelly also speaks on Wyatt’s behalf.
This moment is a turning point for Wayne. Whereas before he had been primarily concerned with having a normal-seeming family, here, when it matters most, he is fully supportive of his child. He understands that his love and his ability to advocate for Wyatt should come before anything else.
The judge looks over the case and says, “I see no reason to deny your request […] You are obviously very concerned about your child’s safety.” Kelly and Wayne are relieved and realize that their own assumptions based on the judge’s appearance had been wrong. The petition is granted, and Wyatt Benjamin Maines becomes Nicole Amber Maines.
Nicole’s name change is a key part of her transition, as is using feminine pronouns. It allows for a change in the way people think of Nicole—not as a boy who enjoys feminine things, but as a girl.