What is ‘deadnaming’?


When a transgender person or non-binary person decides to let others know their true identity, they often change their name.

This is an empowering action for the young person as it can help friends, families and colleagues accept and acknowledge that identity in a clear and caring manner.

Deadnaming is the deliberate or accidental use of the person’s birth name or ‘dead’ name that they had before they transitioned.

While it can take some people a bit of time to adjust to the person’s new title and they may find themselves using the wrong name as a force of habit, the problem occurs when people wilfully refuse to acknowledge the person’s transition.

What is the impact of ‘deadnaming’ someone?

  • Not only is ‘deadnaming’ disrespectful to the transgender person, it also ‘outs’ them to anyone else in the conversation who may not be aware of their transition.

  • The decision to be open about your gender identity is not an easy one for many people and when others don’t accept it, it can lead to a lot of stress for the person involved.

  • It can contribute to transphobia leaving the person open to bullying, discrimination or harassment.

How you can help

  • If you’re unclear or unsure, ask the person what they’d like to be called – it’s as simple as that!

  • Once you know their name, use it as much as you can to get used to it and encourage others to do the same.

  • Don’t ask them to reveal their ‘dead’ name. If they want to tell you, they will.

  • If you get it wrong, don’t worry. Correct yourself, apologise and move on.

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