Raye is planning to write a book, and is looking for a name for the protagonist. The book will be set in Australia, and the main character will be an Indigenous Australian, so ideally the character’s name would be from an Australian Aboriginal language.
Raye would like the name to have a meaning connected to the story. The character will be symbolically linked with the colour red, with earth, and with stability. She will be the leader of a team.
Raye thinks she will be from New South Wales, perhaps from around the Cronulla area of Sydney, but that isn’t really decided yet. However, the name does not have necessarily have to be from a dialect from that area.
The name also needs to stand out as a girl’s name – the main character is transgender, so her name should hopefully be something that distances her from her birth gender.
Raye if you had paid me for a name consultation, I would have sent your money back and explained that I am completely unqualified for this task. However as it’s free, I will do my best to come up with some words from Aboriginal languages that might be suitable to use as names (or sound name-like) and hope that it might be of some interest.
Connected to the meaning “red”
Mudjil (from Sydney)
Connected to the meaning “earth”
Bamal (from Sydney)
Connected to the meaning “stability”
Wilta – means “firm” in the Kaurna language
I don’t think any of these words sound specifically feminine, and I think for a transgender character, the biggest advantage is that they sound as if they could be used for either sex.
My first thought for a name from the Cronulla area is Wanda, as the name of Wanda Beach at Cronulla comes from the local Aboriginal word for “sand hills” (vaguely earthy). However, you might think that this sounds a bit dated, and is not obviously Indigenous, as Wanda is also a European name.
I do think that having a transgender Indigenous person as your main character is fairly brave, as this is a complex issue. However, if you know a lot about this subject, it would be a wonderful opportunity to highlight the cultural nuances that might arise. From looking at the names of real life Aboriginal transgender people, a name like Ruby, Rosie, or Scarlet would probably be more believable.
I can only hope that someone who knows far more than I might see this and advise you!
(Photo shows the sand dunes of Cronulla on the Kurnell Peninsula)