When 7-year-old Dayvid Dixon introduces herself to people, they either look at her mom or ask her to repeat herself.
She tells them again, “My name is Dayvid.” They ask her if she’s sure or whether it’s pronounced “DAY-VEE,” suggesting the “d” in her name is silent.
“The words I hear mostly are, ‘Your name is Dayvid? That’s a boy’s name.’ That’s what I usually hear the first day of school,” Dayvid says.
Her usual response to people curious about her name? “It’s a girl’s name to me and a boy’s name,” Dayvid says. “And it’s my name.”
Even the nurse typing Dayvid’s birth certificate questioned her mother.
“It’s usually a shock to anyone we meet for the first time,” said DeShannon Dixon.
Dayvid, a second-grader at West View Elementary School, and her mother, a health care consultant and life coach, have co-authored an easy chapter book about Dayvid going to school and battling the perception that her name is a boy’s name.
In the book, when teachers write the names of the students on the black board, they put them in two lists – girls and boys. Her name is almost always on the boy’s list. This time, her name is on the correct side, but she sees the name Ashley on the boys’ side. She tries to correct the teacher to save the girl from embarrassment, but the teacher tells her that there is a boy named Ashley in the classroom.
The book teaches that names have meanings and can be unisex.
“The story is hers, and mommy cleaned it up a lot,” DeShannon said. “But she wanted (readers) to know how it felt to her when people question if she’s a boy and how it makes her feel when (her name) is always on the boys’ list, when clearly she is a girl.”
The two started writing the book in November and finished in a week. Dayvid would come home and tell her mom the encounters she had with other people finding out her name. Her mother would then write it all down, including her daughter’s feelings. DeShannon self-published the book on Amazon in December.
‘Your name has meaning’
DeShannon said her daughter loves to read, but few books have black characters. She said she thought it would be nice to have a black female that looked like her daughter on the cover of a book, so they decided to write one themselves.
DeShannon said it is important to accept people for who they are because children are affected by what others say.
“I want everyone to know that your name has meaning,” DeShannon recalled telling her daughter. “What people call you is what you become, and Dayvid means great leader. So it doesn’t matter what circumstance or obstacle comes her way, the more we call her by her name, it ingrains in her, and she becomes who she is. And she will be a great leader.”
They have now sold more than 200 copies of the book. The mother-daughter duo plans on writing another book in the near future.
Dayvid said she’s excited to be a 7-year-old author. She likes seeing her words and thoughts in the book. She said the only thing that doesn’t excite her is taking the time to sign every copy.
Dayvid said she hopes the book will comfort other kids. “I want them to learn that if they have an ambiguous name, then it’s OK to be different,” she said. “Everybody’s name is special.”