WHAT IS IN A NAME?
Names mean different things to different people. For some, a name can be a new
beginning, or a sense of pride and joy. For people that identify as transgender a name
can mean everything.
What is deadnaming?
Deadnaming occurs when a person, intentionally or unintentionally, refers to a person
who identifies as transgender or non-binary, by their “birth name”, or “given name.”
How does it affect people?
To some, deadnaming is a form of degradation of life. Deadnaming can be offensive and
cause them to feel as though you do not respect their respective identity, you don’t
support their transition, or that you simply don’t want to put in the effort to make the
Doing this in front of family, or people they are familiar with can “out” them, or signal
that they are transgender. This may be something they are not comfortable with people
knowing yet, or it’s not the right time for the conversation.
How to help?
· Call people the name they want to be called and avoid their “deadname.”
· Don’t avoid using pronouns, but avoid asking, “what are your preferred pronouns?”
It is also important to refrain from asking what is their ‘preferred’ name. Using the word
preferred can make the assumption that people who do not identify as transgender have
the choice in how they can address people who identify as transgender. It is more
appropriate to ask what their chosen name is.
When you are unsure about which name to go by, it is best to just simply ask them.
Beating around the bush, or acting differently can cause them to not be as open with
you. It is also best to approach them in private, rather than in front of others.
For people who identify as transgender, if you are in a situtation where you are likely to
be called by your deadname, i.e. at school, or a doctor’s office. If it is possible to let them
know in advance. If you are in a situation where you are getting called by your
deadname, after you have addressed it. It is best to say something. If you are
uncomfortable, it is best to try to rehearse what you are going to say.
Learning the correct way to address someone, and doing it correctly is the first step in
making others comfortable. It is also a step closer to making the world a safer place.