AJ McLean is opening up about his 9-year-old daughter’s decision to change her name from Ava to Elliott.
“There are a few girls named Ava at her school and she felt like she wanted a name that was unique to her,” McLean, 44, told TODAY Parents.
“But she’ll always Ava to me,” the Backstreet Boys singer added.
Ava ranks high in Social Security’s 2021 most popular names for girls, coming in at No. 5. Elliott, a gender-neutral moniker, ranked 160th for boys and 773rd for girls.
McLean said his fourth grader got the name Elliott from watching “Pete’s Dragon.” In the film, Elliot is a kind-hearted dragon with the ability to make himself invisible.
When Elliott first announced she no longer wanted to be Ava, the pop star confessed that he was “a little taken aback.”
“I was like, ‘Well, this is new,’” McLean recalled. “But I support my kids in whatever they want to do. So now Elliott is Elliott.”
“We haven’t legally changed her name, and I don’t know if that is going to happen,” he continued. “She may wake up tomorrow and say, ‘I’m Ava again.’”
He noted that the name change has “nothing to do with pronouns,” and Elliott uses she/her/hers.
McLean discussed his daughter's name change while promoting his partnership with Mr. Coffee and its #IWantItLatte campaign. He and his wife, Rochelle, are also parents of a 5-year-old daughter named Lyric.
"(Elliott) did almost start this domino effect because then Lyric wanted to change her name to Ava," McLean said with a laugh. "And I was like, 'No. No. No. We're not gonna do this.'"
In August, Rochelle posted on her Instagram stories that Elliott has “changed her name quite a few times since she was about five.”
“Last year she asked us to start calling her Elliott and it stuck,” Rochelle wrote at the time.
The makeup artist and hair stylist urged her followers to “be kind" when commenting.
“She’s just a kid trying to make her way in this crazy world!” Rochelle wrote. “I just want her to know she can always be whoever she wants to be.”