Earlier this week, the world met Elliot Page. He shared that he is a trans man, and he disclosed his preferred pronouns (he/they).
While Elliot received support and praise for 'coming out,' there were people 'deadnaming' him. Some of the people 'deadnaming' happen to be in the trans community.
If you're cisgender (your sense of identity corresponds with your birth sex), you may be wondering what 'deadnaming' means. 'Deadnaming' is the name that a trans man or woman was given at birth, but no longer uses. While a person may have been born with male or female body parts, it does not mean that is who they really are. A person could be born with female parts, but be all male between the ears. Same for a person born male, but is female between the ears. 'Deadnaming' a trans man or woman is extremely disrespectful, and it can be psychologically damaging.
Because of the damage 'deadnaming' can inflict, GLAAD created a style guide for journalists, which Elliot Page signed off on, and sent it out. In the guide, it advises the media to refer to them as Elliot Page, and not their dead name (birth name). The guide also advises that the media give Page the same respect as anyone who has changed their name. Additionally, the media MUST respect Page's pronouns and use them appropriately.
Elliot Page's manager told Yahoo Life that "Elliot affirms the right of each trans person to decide how their prior name is used." Their manager also added that more information can be found in the style guide.
It's important to note that the use of the phrase 'deadnaming' is not used by everyone in the community. Some in the trans community say "birth name" and "prior name" in lieu of 'deadnaming.' 'Deadnaming' is a term that is somewhat controversial, as it refers to the former self dying when one transitions. When one transitions, it isn't a death of their former self. It is rebirth, and it's living your soul out loud.
For those of us who are cisgender, it's important for us to educate ourselves and to LISTEN. Don't always assume you know everything. Stay in your lane, and ask questions. I may sound like I know everything, but I don't. I'm going with what I know about the trans community, via my old friend Alyson. I'm learning more and more about the community everyday, and I will never stop educating myself and asking questions.
To recap: Never call a trans man or woman by their prior name. Call trans men and women by their current name, and use the proper pronouns. It's not just a respect thing. It's a HUMAN thing.