What is deadnaming?

Deadnaming is something that generally happens to members of the transgender community and can be very painful for those to whom it is done.

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When a person refers to someone by a previous, given or birth name, it is called deadnaming. Deadnaming can be done with malice or by accident.

It mostly affects transgender people who have changed their name during their transition.

For instance, if a trans woman’s birth or given name was Martin, but she changed it to Sarah during her transition, calling her Martin or referring to her as Martin would be deadnaming her.

However, deadnaming could happen to people who have divorced and have changed their surnames (for instance Cheryl being called Cheryl Cole) or even people who have decided to change their legal name for their own reasons. Being referred to a previous name can be traumatic regardless of the reasons it was changed.

It is often seen as painful as it can trigger memories of a life from which the person feels totally disconnected now.


Some transgender people, however, are comfortable talking about their previous name and some wish it to remain in history, but you should accept the name you are given by any transgender person, just as you would is the person you are interacting with is cisgender or cisnormative.

You really shouldn’t ask people what their birth name was, unless that information is offered willing to you.

It is very similar to misgendering but focuses more on someone’s name rather than gender pronouns.

Can you expand this definition? Use the comments below and your answer could be used to expand or define this glossary entry.

Check out more definitions in our Big Gay Glossary

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