What does Deadname mean?

Using a name that a person has stopped using to refer to them

The term ‘Deadname’ is used when someone is called by their old name, the one they no longer use, after they’ve transitioned. Take for instance, if a friend refers to a transitioned woman as “John” (her birth name), that’s an instance of being deadnamed. It’s often a mistake, like a mother might unintentionally deadname her daughter because she’s so used to her birth name.

But, deadnaming can also be deliberate. People might use a person’s deadname to deny their transition or to upset them. Say, a school bully might deadname a transitioning student just to mock them. The term deadname can also be used as a noun. For instance, a woman could say, “No one has used my deadname in a decade.”

‘Deadname’ as a slang term was first used in the 2010s by trans activists. The idea behind the name is that when a person transitions, they adopt a new name and leave their old one behind, as if it’s dead. Thus, the term ‘Deadname’ came into being.

Example for using ‘Deadname’ in a conversation

Hey, remember our old friend from high school, Kevin?

Oh yeah, you mean Sarah? She transitioned a few years ago.

Wait, what? I had no idea! I haven’t seen her since then.

Yeah, it’s important to respect her by using her new name, Sarah, and not deadname her.