A Gender-Crossed Tale of Another Toby

Toby Muller's article about being named Toby in a world of Tommys touched me for obvious reasons ("Growing Up Toby," May 31). In addition to being a bona fide Toby (not Tobi, not Tobias), I also had the misfortune to be born 10 days past the kindergarten enrollment deadline.

It was 1956 Chicago and the Democratic machine had the power to revise even the most sacred of all records: a birth certificate. My father got the record revised to show that I was born before the deadline and eligible for earlier enrollment.

Unfortunately, the scrivener who prepared the new certificate also assumed that Toby Lee Gerber was a female. The new certificate, forming the basis for my 12 years in public schools, designated me as a girl. It did lead to some interesting gym classes.

Toby L. Gerber

Dallas, Texas


I, too, had a first name I detested for the first 30 years of my life. So in 1962, when I moved to California at 32, I had my first name changed to Lee. I love it. It is short, concise; people never mispronounce or misspell it. If I wanted you to know what my other name was, I wouldn't have changed it. Suffice it to say, it was a hell of a lot worse than Toby.

Lee Lavallee



Toby Muller isn't alone. How would he like "Alvin" instead? Once a harmless moniker, Alvin became ludicrous after being mugged by a bunch of television chipmunks a few decades ago.

Alvin M. Hattal

Marina del Rey


I've gotten my fair share of teasing as a result of my name--"Jory-Pory" and such--but I've always been glad to have an unusual name. In fact, while most of the kids I grew up with were named Mike, Steven or Lori (with one spelling or another for "individualism"), I was quite content not to be one of them.

Jory K. Prum



I grew up with the name Audley. My baby sister could only come close; she called me Ugly.

Audley Upton

Palm Desert

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