Concealing Original Identity

Graphic by Prajwal S D

“Faced with what felt like an impossible choice as my identity was real which should be acknowledged but I kept it as a secret self.”

In this modern era, if someone intentionally or accidentally refers to a person who does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, their birth name without their consent is noticed as DEADNAMING a person. For many trans people, undergoing a name change could be an affirming step in transitioning. It can alleviate discomfort associated with one’s old name and help others see them as the gender they identify as. This can occur anywhere in a non-binary or transgender person’s life from workplace to personal relationships.

Deadnaming feels like a blanket label where all are supposed to get behind. Labelling parts of someone else’s identity as “DEAD” without knowing them and their story really doesn’t sit right with anyone. Some people change their name out of pressure to prove their seriousness to transition. Cis dominated society may weaponize names along with gender to diminish identity and that such use should be condemned. However, there are also circumstances, particularly where people have built a brand around an old identity that there is need to clarify with language such as formerly known as to ensure clarity of messaging and to enable people to retain historical identities. Deadnaming strongly connects to the somewhat dated idea that upon transitioning people are required to restart their lives. It may be accidental but may be used to intentionally dismiss a person’s gender identity as an act of hate.

Educate, don’t hate!

People around the world face acts of hate and bigotry because those around them refuse to educate themselves. We learn to walk, talk and be social. But what our schooling systems don’t always teach us is to be KIND. To live is a continuing learning process and brings necessary changes in people for a better work for those around. Respecting gender, pronouns and name could be a step to avoid deadnaming. It can cause mental health issues among people who don’t identify with their gender at birth, including anxiety or depression, among others, and they can be transphobic too.

An example of deadnaming could be, suppose at the workplace, Max calls Lily, one of his co-workers by the name she was given at birth. Lily gets upset and corrects Max, but he ignores her and walks away. So he disrespects her correcting him and disregards her new name and pronouns.

In many studies, it is shown that when correct names are used, there is a significant decrease in depressive symptoms and suicidal behaviours. In the year 2015 the U.S. transgender survey,

  • 46% of respondents had experienced verbal harassment solely for being transgender.
  • 30% had experienced homelessness due to discrimination in housing and employment.

Trans people experience discrimination particularly if they are known, believed or discovered to be trans. The trials and tribulations of the trembling voyage of deadnaming has ruined some people’s lives and caused Gender Dysphoria. Deadnames are called dead for a reason so digging up old graves may lead to mental trauma for people.

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