Dead naming, what is it and why is it wrong?

Ah, the joys of birth names. Many people don’t have a problem with it, but it becomes a particularly interesting deal when you are trans.

I haven’t spoken my birth name in years. Nobody that I currently know, an exception being R, my family, and one other friend I’ve known since prior to transition. That’s it though. Not even K knows my birth name.

I like it that way, because that name doesn’t matter. That name bears the weight of years of sadness and hurt. Years of self harm and hatred. That name bears so many negative things I wish I could erase it from my memory.

I’m certainly not the only one that thinks like this either.

Dead naming is when someone decides to use your birth name. This often comes along with people who ask you things like “What’s your real name?” As if the name I chose for myself was fake.

Some people are assholes about it, and some people are interested. Other’s need getting used to early in transition, and still other’s slip. Some people just say it because, well, they don’t like that you changed your name.

The boy that [birth name] referenced didn’t exist. That little boy and young man was a façade that this little girl, this young woman was forced to hide behind

Here’s the thing about dead naming though:

When you do it, you are telling that person that their transition is worthless. You are telling them that their identity is worthless and invalid. It shows you obviously do not care about the person’s existence. You are telling them that you would rather disrespect them then dare to utter a new name.

Dead naming isn’t just a lack of respect, it’s a complete lack of humanization. Whether you are an ally or not, when you dead name someone, you might as well go Scorpion on their ass.

scorpion Get over here!

It’s not just that it’s rude and disrespectful, it hurts. It hurts so fucking much it’s unbelievable. I know that many people don’t really get how it could be so bad, I mean… It’s just a name.

Well… Yes, it is a name, but it’s not just a name. It’s a word, a name that bears the burden of our past. It is embarrassing to some, hurtful to others. To speak of that person with their dead name, whether you are doing it in front of them or not, is to tear them apart, and render their existence invalid. You must remember that someone’s birth name is the name of a person that doesn’t exist.

I am not my birth name, I never truly was. The boy that it referenced didn’t exist. That little boy and young man was a façade that this little girl, this young woman was forced to hide behind, because the gender dichotomy is and was so strictly enforced.

So please, don’t ever, ever dead name someone. If you know someone who has just recently come out, and you’re having a hard time remembering their pronouns and name, practice. Look at pictures of them and call them their chosen name, which is their real name. Look at pictures of them, past and present, prior to transition and now, and call them by the correct pronouns.

I know it sounds silly, but practice, it will help, because dead naming someone or misgendering someone in public could get them hurt. It could even get them killed. Even if nothing that extreme happens, it’s so incredibly uncomfortable, and it hurts, so please. Practice. Be respectful, you don’t have to understand.

Thank you for reading sunshines, and have a beautiful day.



3 thoughts on “Dead naming, what is it and why is it wrong?

  1. I didn’t even know doing that was called dead naming. That’s really interesting. I’d just assumed that it would be disrespectful to do…
    Thank you for writing about this. ^^

    Liked by 1 person

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