The name of a person is an important part of their identity.
Learn what deadnaming is and how it can harm a person's sense of self.
What Exactly Is Deadnaming?
When someone refers to a nonbinary or transgender person by
a name they no longer useâ€”typically, a birth name given to them before their
transitionâ€”this is known as deadnaming. Changing one's given name is a personal
step in the transitioning process. Deadnaming, both accidental and intentional,
undermines a person's gender identity. Even if a person's legal name does not
correspond to their new identity, use their correct name and pronoun to avoid
invalidating their true self.
Why Do People Deadname?
Some people accidentally deadname because they are unaware
of a person's recent transition or gender nonconformity. Intentional deadnaming
is motivated by a lack of regard for a person's new identity. When someone
deadnames, they refuse to recognize a person's new identity and true gender.
This refusal is frequently motivated by a refusal to support an individual's
transition or the trans community as a whole.
Why Deadnaming Is Harmful
Deadnaming, like misgendering, is a harmful practice because
it fails to recognize a person's identity. Accidental deadnaming can be equally
upsetting or hurtful to others because it demonstrates a lack of awareness of
the trans person's life.
Intentional deadnaming is a form of verbal harassment that
harms an individual's mental health and can lead to depression and low self-esteem.
Calling someone by the wrong name can also cause gender dysphoria, which can
have a negative impact on a person's sense of identity and emotional
What to Do if You Accidentally Use a Deadname
Deadnaming occurs both professionally and socially. If you
accidentally use someone's previous name, apologize right away. Moving forward,
use the correct name to address the person. If you use the incorrect pronouns
with their old name, correct yourself and continue the conversation.
How to React When Someone Use Your Deadname
Consider the following steps if someone uses your
1. Describe your name change. If someone uses your old name,
politely mention your name change right after they do. If you don't want to
correct the person, have a loved one state your name and pronouns for you.
2. Carry on the conversation. Continue the conversation
after you've addressed the name change. As you continue to converse with the
individual, observe whether they use your correct name. Remove yourself from
the conversation if the person continues to use your old name.
3. Surround yourself with proponents or likeminds. Creating a supportive
community makes it easier to handle these conversations. Friends and family
members who support your transition can help to reinforce your true name and
gender, especially when the wrong name is used repeatedly.