This article was published on January 22nd, 2020
Our names are our identity. Everything that we are and the person we are is attached to our names. What may be simple labels to some, names are a vital part of our being to so many people, even if our names now are different than what was originally written on birth certificates.
Deadnaming is the process of using someone’s birth name or name other than the monicker they have chosen, often as a means by which to offend or disrespect the person they are doing it to. Wiktionary defined deadnaming as “referring to someone (especially a transgender person) who has changed names by a previous name.”
While some people have names they are completely content with and or even love, there are others in society, including lesbian, gay, bi, queer, non-binary, and transgender people, that needed to or wanted to change their names to better suit the person they actually are. Deadnaming means not recognizing the person in question’s chosen name and choosing to use their deadname.
In rare cases, dead naming can be accidental. That sibling who let your deadname slip once was most likely not attempting to hurt you in any way. A grandparent still coming to terms with their transgender grandchild and accidentally used the wrong name to identify them is also probably not wanting to inflict harm upon anyone. Considering they grew up in a generation before trans and LGBT people were able to come out and live open lives, making this mistake once or twice can be forgiven.
But when those around you or your friends who deliberately utilize the wrong pronoun and birth name of someone they know who has gone through painstaking efforts to change it, this is dead naming with the sole purpose of bullying and harassing trans people and folks who have changed their names. It can be deeply psychologically damaging to people to be constantly referred to by their deadname and victimized in this manner.
People chose to change their name for a reason. It really doesn’t matter what or why or how this or that person came to the decision. What matters is all humans deserve respect. It’s not very hard to eventually drop someone’s deadname altogether and forever refer to them by their new name…their real name. If you know someone who has changed their name, give them their due diligence and respect they deserve as fellow members of the human race, and use it.