Meet River Butcher: Nonbinary comic known for role on ‘Good Trouble’ announces name change

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 12: Comedian Rhea Butcher  attends the Point Honors Los Angeles 2019 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 12, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
River Butcher announced they were changing their name, and that it's all part of their growth. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

It’s a new day for performer River Butcher.

On Tuesday, the nonbinary comic known for doing material about pets, vegetarianism, feminism, baseball and the overall queer experience in America — as well as for film and TV including a recent role on Good Trouble — announced on Twitter that they were changing their name.

“Good morning everybody! I’m grateful to let everyone know that my name is River Butcher,” they tweeted. “I was relearning/remembering how to swim over the summer, and I just heard the name sorta whispered to me — and then it was like an ending flow of that name and word towards me. It reminded me of how my mom would tell me the story of how she named me.”

Butcher, who stopped using their birth name some months ago and most recently went by RB Butcher, went on to explain that their “old name holds a lot of significance and love,” and they feel no “sadness or anger” when they see or hear it.

“It’s never been gendered for me but it is in the world, which has been my experience of my transness in general,” they wrote. “My old name will always be around just by the nature of my journey as an artist and a person. I hope that it can serve as an exercise for people to learn that just because the name exists in the public record, it doesn’t need to be spoken. transition is retroactive.”

They further explained, “I made myself small for many reasons over my 39 years and I am on a path to take up the space I was created for, slowly and surely. I am very lucky to be able to live publicly as myself. I do not take this gift lightly. Help me create [a] loving space for trans people in our society.”

“You do not have to be perfect,” they said. “You do not have to spring fully formed from the forehead of Zeus. You do not have to be anything but you. Your imperfection is what makes you, you… Please make friends with the transphobe in your head. Ask it questions. Give it hugs. Let it tell you what it’s afraid of. I promise you, you will learn so much and your heart will grow.”

The comic ended with: “Pronouns are he/him/they/them and heart is full.”

Butcher received a wave of support from the LGBTQ community as well as several allies applauding their courage, bravery and strength to make such a promising leap.

“Mighty River!!!! Congratulations!” wrote The Matrix director Lilly Wachowski.

“Hi River! That’s a sweet-ass name, I love it,” added former child star Mara Wilson.

“What a great name just in general but even better with the story you’re telling here about how it came to you,” author Jen Kirkman wrote, while fellow comic Debra DiGiovanni added, “Hey River! Great name!”

“This is hilarious because I’ve been debating if I might want a new name and River is one of the ones I’ve been considering. Great choice and thanks for the reintroduction,” a fan chimed in.

“River is such a beautiful and strong name,” another commenter wrote. “Rivers are so powerful as they find their way to the oceans and waterways. Your journey is just as powerful. Cheers, River!”

In addition to being a trailblazing nonbinary comedian, Butcher has spoken publicly about making sure their comedy is not fueling the flames of political ideology, but rather reminding others that there is good in the world just as much as there is bad.

“While I still want to comment on things that are happening and have a point of view onstage, I also think there’s value in giving people an hour off from everything that’s awful,” they said in an interview with Chicago Mag. “There are flowers blooming, my dog is cute — there’s still goodness and fun to be had in the world.”