Deadnaming and transgender people: The pain of a name
By: Wren St. Fire
Names. Labels. Decisions… We, as human beings, do love to put neat little labels on nearly anything. We have a deep-seated need to create well-balanced order out of the endless amounts of chaos that this universe tends to fling our way.
Your name is there, sometimes even before you’re born, just waiting to slap a label on you for seemingly the rest of eternity. But there is a community of people out there in the world who are like me.
Transgender people stuck with a name that belongs to a gender that they do not in any way identify with, or intersex individuals who were given a name based upon an incorrect assumption.
So we change them. And we ask that you respect that.
It has to be difficult for anyone to get used to a sudden name change, but especially our family. They may have to get used to using a different set of pronouns and calling us by another name from the one they have been using for us for years, or even decades. I hope that they understand we don’t do this to hurt them or cause any unnecessary pain.
We do it because a name can have a massive impact on transgender and intersex people, like me. I felt like my name was staring back at me every single second, of every single day, of my entire life. Mocking me and digging that knife just a little bit deeper into my soul. I wanted to forget my name, block it out of existence altogether. I was stuck with a name that, quite frankly, made me exhausted.
Frustration and anger felt like a constant companion. The pain when hearing my name would cut through my body like a hot iron. A lead ball would sit in my stomach, while nausea rolls through me with all of the graceless power of an oncoming semi-truck.
The overwhelming sadness and disappointment haunted me daily. It almost brought me to my knees with its force. It fed the seemingly endless loop of hopelessness that stifles my mind into a numbed void of nothingness.
So, I changed my name.
Transgender and intersex people don’t change their names to cause anyone pain or confusion. We did not decide to do this on some kind of baseless whim, nor to somehow be trendy and garner attention. The sad truth is that not everyone has the support of their friends and family. The vast majority of us will inevitably lose some, if not all, of our closest circle through the transition process.
We deserve to have ourselves and others be able to see us for who we are, and not the preordained cookie-cutter shapes that society would prefer to force us in to. Life is this vast, mysterious, messy, splendid, and utterly complicated circumstance that we find ourselves living in. Why would people be any less diverse or confusing?
I write these words as a transgender man. If you are transgender, know that you are not alone. If you are not, I want to give you a minuscule insight into the feelings that some of us might go through daily. To make you aware of the consequences of something most would see as insignificantly small in the grand scheme of things, but something that has such meaningful repercussions upon the people to whom it is crucial.
The impact that a single name can have on one person’s health and well-being is altogether immeasurable.
I’ve changed my name. Remember it, and respect it.
Wren St.Fire (He/Him/His) is a polyamorous, gay, trans-man who came screaming out of his closet a year and a half ago. He wants to share his feelings and insight in the hopes that it can help others somehow. He is a voracious reader, keen lover of music, and also determined to finish the book he is writing!