Deadnaming and transgender people

After someone starts using a preferred name or a new legal name, it is not nice to use their old name (often called their dead name). This is called deadnaming (or dead-naming) when done to transgender people. Using someone’s deadname is often done at the same time as misgendering, which is also not nice.

Some companies have rules against deadnaming transgender people, including Twitter and Automattic, the makers of WordPress.

Journalism

Journalists who deadname transgender people, especially trans survivors of assault and people who have been murdered, cause multiple forms of harm:

  • Perpetuate the stereotype that transgender people are deceptive
  • Cause pain to the story’s subject, or their friends and loved ones
  • Perpetuate the stereotype that their “birth name” or “real name” is who they really are.

Legal reasons

In rare cases, lawyers have to use an old or alternate name. This would only happen if something related to the case happened before their name change.

  • NKA: Stands for “now known as”
  • FKA: Stands for “formerly known as”

For example, in papers from a legal trial, a trans person’s name might be listed as JOSEPH C. JOHNSON (nka JENNIFER C. JOHNSON).

References

Clements KC (2017). What is deadnaming? Healthline https://www.healthline.com/health/transgender/deadnaming

Robertson A (November 27, 2018). Twitter has banned misgendering or ‘deadnaming’ transgender people. The Verge https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/27/18113344/twitter-trans-user-hateful-content-misgendering-deadnaming-ban

Chiu A (August 14, 2018). Laverne Cox blasts ‘deadnaming.’ What is it and why is it a problem? Washington Post

Ginicola MM, Smith C, Filmore JM (2017). Affirmative Counseling with LGBTQI+ People. John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 9781119375494

Dry J (April 11, 2019). Transgender Community Reacts to IMDb Publishing Birth Names Without Consent. IndieWire. https://www.indiewire.com/2019/04/imdb-harms-transgender-actor-actress-birth-name-lgbt-1202055599/

Resources

NLGJA (nlgja.org)

GLAAD (glaad.org)