The Concept of “dead-naming” is No Bueno

In my almost 5 years of transition, I have seen and heard the term “deadname” quite frequently, and honestly, it makes me wonder what are they really trying to say.

I remember, during my first years in the school of Philosophy, in University, how we talked about who we really are and What Are We. It sounded confusing at first, but it all made sense as classes went on.

Basically, our lecturer was saying that we are subject to many changes, but they can be divided into two categories: Accidental Changes and Substantial Changes.

Basically, when we talk about Accidental changes –assuming we apply this concept to humankind– we are talking about the changes a person goes through, from the moment they are born, until the moment that they die. For instance, I went from child to teen, from short to long hair, from short to tall, etcetera. You get the point. These changes, even including changing your socially-perceived gender, are not substantial changes but accidental changes instead.

Substantial changes are a bit simpler to understand since they only happen twice in a lifetime. First Substantial change occurs at the moment you were born. The second one; when you die. You either exist, in whichever form you want, or you don’t exist as a human being anymore.

What is “Deadnaming” and why “old name” is a much better term

To those who are not familiar with the term deadnaming, often used by many transgender people (whether they are non-binary, genderfluid, male-to-female or female-to-male transgender people) it basically means the name they had prior to their transition, the name assigned by their parents, guardians or tutors when they were born.

The term doesn’t make much sense, since these people are still pretty much alive, and they’re the same person they were before their transition.

Ok, some might argue that transition brings a lot of behavioural (psychological) and physical changes and they feel like a whole new person. Poetry aside, however, they are still the same person.

Why? Because most transgender people who transitioned have one thing in common: They struggled with gender identity issues most part of their lives. Living under their old socially-perceived gender was not their true gender to begin with!

Most people who transitioned as adults waited for social conditions in their community to be somewhat apropriate. That was their window, and they came out of the closet. When the conditions were right, they did it. Whether they think they should have waited or not later on, they did what they thought was right with the knowledge and the tools that they had at the time.

In a nutshell: Their old social gender was their cover, and their new gender is their true identity.

So these people had been on a lifetime journey to discovering their true identities but this in no way means that they were born again, or died.

The problem with terms like deadnaming is that the word itself, compound noun (in the case of deadname), contains the word death, and people would naturally turn it into a much bigger deal than it really is. Don’t get me wrong. It is really nice when people get the names and the pronouns right, but accidents and stubbornness will happen.

So instead of saying “Please stop deadnaming me.” saying “please stop using my old name.” Will cause more of a positive impact in the lives of people, most of whom would be more likely to respect and understand what you are going through.

There is a blurry boundary between expression and identity, and terms, that strike people outside community as exaggerated or dramatic, might cause some confusion.

In a world where we are trying to build bridges between the LGBTQ community and the rest of our societies, these terms may be causing more harm than good.


By Ellen Hope Crowe (@elliehopeauthor) 



6 Things Every Low-key Transgender Woman Can Relate To

hannah-twitter (girlthings.net) follow hannah on twitter @hannahw253
Hannah Winterbourne. Transgender Officer in the British Army (Follow her on Twitter @hannahw253)

A lot of us opt for a quiet life, away from the spotlight and the prying eyes. Some people are actually surprised to find out that we are, in fact, transgender.

1: Really? Are you? But you don’t look transgender.

Haha! This one always makes me laugh, and even though I feel a little bad admitting this, it’s quite validating actually! I’m a low-key trans girl, I just want to blend in, get coffee, walk my dog or go about my daily life. I don’t care about being looked at any more than the average lady does.

2: So: Did you get a sex change?

I presume you mean what set of genitals do I have? That’s none of your bloody business.

3: While lots of transgender girls can’t wait to get home to put on a bra, I can’t wait to get home to ditch it.

Haha! If I could actually get away by staying in my pajamas all day I would. Truth is, to me, being a low-key trans girl, my gender is more of an internal thing. Sure enough, I care about fashion just like any other girl does, but I seldom go over the top with it. Shopping for super deals on ebay is my passion!

4: The thought of clubbing and partying the night away makes me feel drained.

There’s no party like my low-key trans girls party. Because such party never happened in the first place!

Face it. I’m a chill lady. I would rather go out for coffee with a few friends instead. This is why it’s perfectly acceptable for anyone else to stay home on Friday night reading an essay on women rights in Africa! Do what youw want! It doesn’t matter if you didn’t even brush your hair today. You do you!  You’re a beautiful, interesting mind and that is all that matters. Plus, there’s nothing like sushi and a good drink in the comfort of your home, away from the noise and the messy drunk people.

5: Friends and Relatives say: I would have no problem with someone like you using the female restroom. You aren’t like them.

Dear friends, I know you’re just trying to say something nice, but it doesn’t make me feel better when you insult other people in order to compliment me. Plus: Like whom? Who determines who is feminine enough to use a public restroom?

6: Some people often share their sexual fantasies and fetishes with you as you begin to roll eyes hard.

I’m first a woman, and a decent one at that. I don’t care about your sexual fantasies bro. Why are you sharing all this personal information with me? I won’t send you nudes. Perhaps you want to meet some crossdressers instead? Whoever it is, I am not your lady. Trust me.

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