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.
Oscar-nominated star Elliot Page 'comes out' as transgender. He made the announcement on his social media on December 1:
"Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life. I feel overwhelming gratitude for the incredible people who have supported me along this journey. I canât begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self. Iâve been endlessly inspired by so many in the trans community. Thank you for your courage, your generosity and ceaselessly working to make this world a more inclusive and compassionate place. I will offer whatever support I can and continue to strive for a more loving and equal society."
"I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive. To all the trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse, and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you, and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better."
Born Ellen Page, Elliot became a worldwide sensation in hit movie "Juno." He went on to star in "Whip It," "Freeheld," and "Umbrella Academy."
Elliot Page's announcement has been praised by many in the LGBTQIA+ community. Nick Adams, GLAAD's Director of Transgender Media, commended Page's announcement and called him an "inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people."
My Two Cents
It's always amazing to see someone who is living their truth freely and happily. I may not know what it's like to be trans, but I know what it's like to finally find yourself and proudly live out loud, regardless of what people think. Being your complete self is an inspiration, because not everyone finds themselves during their lifetime. They just live the way they were groomed to live by their parents and society. It takes bold strength to be your authentic self, whether you're trans or cis-gender. I'm proud to see Elliot's announcement. He is already beloved due to all the work he has done in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Seeing this announcement is like witnessing a beautiful birth of strength and power. It's so inspiring!
Some of you may be "weirded out," "disturbed," etc by his announcement. None of this has anything to do with you. It has to do with Elliot, and how he is sharing who he truly is, with a world that isn't welcoming to trans men and women. Educate yourselves on the trans community, and be supportive. One way you can begin to be supportive is by using Elliot's preferred name and pronouns. In the trans community, if you refer to someone by their birth name (for example: calling Elliot "Ellen"), it is called "dead-naming." It's disrespectful, and can be psychologically damaging.