What is Deadnaming & Why is it So Damaging?

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“Deadnaming” is the act of referring to a transgender person by their former name, post transition. But what sort of impact can this have?

  • Throughout history, the “naming" of other people has been a strategy utilized to exert power: calling a woman by the last name of her husband or calling a divorced woman by the title “Ms.”.
  • Language is a powerful tool and the titles we are either given or that we choose for ourselves inevitably impact how we are perceived within and how we navigate society.
  • When a person comes out as transgender, in many cases, they will select a new name that they want to be called in the future. This chosen name reflects their new identity.
  • For trans people it is difficult to wholly escape their birth name, be it at the doctor’s office or in promotional emails. For some this can be anxiety inducing.
  • The act of “deadnaming”, when someone calls a trans person by their dead name, despite being aware of their chosen name, has been described by trans actress Laverne Cox as “the ultimate insult”.
  • It must be noted that not all trans people view their birth name as being “dead”. Nonetheless, for other’s it can be a source of immense pain.
  • Some have gone so far as to describe the act of deadnaming as an act of violence, which can put trans lives at risk because when done purposefully deadnaming is a denial of the trans experience.
  • With 2021 being the deadliest year for trans people on record it is argued that microaggressions, such as deadnaming, should be taken into account when searching for solutions to transphobia.
Articles from 2 publishers

2 articles on this topic

Huffington Post

Deadnaming A Trans Person Is Violence  —  So Why Does The Media Do It Anyway?

7 min read
Screen Shot

In the US, 10 trans people have been killed since the beginning of 2021

2 min read