Storify: Respecting Chosen Names

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

We don't deadname cis characters/people like we do trans ones.

A 'deadname' is a name that a person doesn't use or go by anymore. It may be a 'birth name' (or may not be). I want to note up-front that some trans people still use birth names in some contexts (esp. if they're closeted). But the phenomena we see right now in, say, book reviews is an immediate rush to establish a trans character's 'deadname'. "NAME, born DEADNAME..." is a thing we do to trans people in an attempt to push their gender identity to light first and foremost.

We don't do this with cis people in the same way. We MAY note their birth name (in, say, an obituary) but not EVERY TIME we talk about them. So this is a thread of cis people whose chosen names are respected way way more than trans people's names are.

@ShiraGlassman opens with Sweeney Todd.

@ShiraGlassman: If u always call him Sweeney Todd instead of Benjamin Barker but refuse to stop deadnaming real, living trans ppl pls examine yr motivations

You know him by Logan or Wolverine, and almost never by James Howlett. (X-Men)

You know Dirk Gently by his chosen name and not by Svlad Cjelli. (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency)

You know Ford Prefect by his chosen name, not as by Ix or Praxibetel Ix; and Trillian by her chosen name and not Tricia Marie McMillan.

We call him Superman or Clark Kent, not Kal-El.

We call Finn by a name Poe came up with and Finn enthusiastically agreed to.

@mixtormenta: Star Wars babe Finn's assigned name is FN-2187, but everyone refers to him by the name given by Poe. Respect Finn, respect trans people.

We call her Rogue, not Anna Marie. (X-Men)

We call him Han Solo (and I have no interest in the prequel's promise of a deadname reveal). (Star Wars)

We call him Bones, not Leonard McCoy. (Star Trek: The Original Series)

We call him Neo. Only the villain calls him Thomas Anderson. (The Matrix)

@adamndsmith: Neo, rather than Thomas Anderson in The Matrix. Only Smith calls him Anderson (and that film has a pretty clear trans theme throughout)

We call him Booth, not Seeley Joseph. (Bones)

@DiannaLGunn: Also nobody calls Booth in Bones by his first name unless they're TRYING to piss him off

We respect the chosen names of actors and authors--when they're cis.

We call her Marilyn Monroe.

@planethalia: Not fictional, but Marylin Monroe is my go to example

We call him John Wayne.

@witchandry: Agreed. John Wayne - almost never named as Marion Morrison. Old Hollywood routinely changed actors' names.

We don't deadname Black activists unless we're being racist as fuck.

@Shaker_aphra: Another RL example: Everyone who's not an asshole understood that it was racist AF to call Mohammed Ali and Malcolm X by their deadnames.

We call him Pippin, not Peregrin. (The Lord of the Rings)

We call her Petra. (Jane the Virgin)

We call him Ender, not Andrew Wiggin. (Ender's Game) (An example of how people can use their deadname in other circumstances, IF THEY WANT.)

We call him Hank, not Henry. (X-Men)

We call him Robin Hood, not Robert Fitzooth.

We respect cis people who want to go by their middle names, rather than first ones.

We call him Indiana Jones, not Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr.

YES. The supporting characters remember to use the right name in the right context.

@Geek_Kelly: And people who are aware of their secret identities call them the appropriate name at the appropriate time.

Lois doesn't slip up and call Clark Kal-El or Superman when he's in "mild-mannered reporter" mode. This is important. Cis people often say that remembering to use our names is "too hard".

@merlinslaugh: All of the Cullens in Twilight have different surnames they chose to give up when they join the family.

@dtmooreeditor: Kaywinnet Lee Frye, from Firefly?

@mjt273: UK royalty does this all the time - Queen Victoria and George VI are both using names that were originally middle names, among many others.

@inafried: Would be great to hear from Katy Perry, Meg Ryan, Demi Moore or Chevy Chase on this.

@OtherBecky: Hardly anyone calls Saint Paul "Saul of Tarsus."

@JanetteKirchner: If people watched Highlander, all of the immortals used other names to go by.

@jeannette_ng: Voldemort, where arguably populace doesn't deadname him but also doesn't want to call him that and say YouKnowWho?

@lizjwriter: Indiana Jones. All 3 of the 3 Musketeers. Scout Finch. Leela. Neo. Mystique. Seven of Nine. Mandark.

@afewbugs: Any character who changed their name on marriage (or for that matter, any real person)

@natquiadd: Vin Diesel, born Mark Sinclair, stars with The Rock, born Dwayne Johnson, in Fast and the Furious Something Something Fast Cars the Movie

@ChaKatKimber: Jamie Foxx, which name he intentionally chose to sound feminine/androgynous.

We (usually) respect cis people's nicknames.

@LizzieColt: Sort of example, my birth name is Elizabeth, I don't use it apart from legally, if I say my name is Lizzie no one asks if it's 'real'.

@SylviaDHook: I feel like Prince (and "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince") deserves a special place in this thread...

Cis people using nicknames and chosen names are, of course, deadnamed on occasion. I mentioned obits and news reports earlier. But we tend to talk about them in reviews, in their work, in passing using their chosen names. There isn't the same RUSH to deadname them. That rush to deadname us is not really because there's some sacredness to birthnames; it's a decision to make our transness known upfront.

But it's done in a way that hurts trans people by asserting that our identity and our chosen names aren't legitimate. If our transness is relevant, it is far better to say "NAME is a trans woman..." rather than "NAME, born DEADNAME..." Understand that forcibly asserting deadnames on us (because it's too hard, too much to remember, too inconvenient, too special) is violence.

Cis privilege includes having your chosen name largely respected. Trans oppression means ours largely are not. Understand too that this misuse of deadnames in book reviews have made it difficult for trans authors to even DISCUSS deadnames, because we worry that reviewers will then wield those names hurtfully and carelessly in reviews. Please don't.


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