What’s in a Deadname?

Understanding the transgender movement’s hatred of parents

Naming is an act of dominion. When God created the world, he named Adam, and permitted Adam to name the creatures. This moment in Genesis reveals the essential order of things. Man is subject to his Namer. Animals are subject to theirs. God conferred upon Adam, his subordinate, authority over for the work of His hand by giving him this responsibility. To name something is to put it in its proper order. Our name tells us where we belong, and to whom.

The internet permits its users to name themselves. Online, personal history collapses beneath a veil of personal branding. We choose screen names and handles, identifiers that may or not have any relation to our space-bound reality. There is me, and then there is the avatar of me: some kind of abstraction, only an entity, something illusory. Online representations of the self are our own infinitely malleable intellectual property, subject to no higher principle of order than personal whim.

The structural possibility of bottomless self-referentiality makes the internet a perfect breeding ground for the otherwise infertile transgender movement. In forums dedicated to transgenderism, the logic of internet identity-building has become a launching point for real-life identity de- and reconstruction. Increasingly, the solipsism of online sex pests is spilling over into reality, inspiring insecure youth to pursue sex-reassignment “therapies” that cause irreversible damage. Long before the haircut, the hormones, the experimental genital mutilation, Rule #1 of becoming trans is to name yourself.

There is a term for the improper use of the name a “transitioning” person was given by their parents: deadnaming

The meaning of the term is precisely as it sounds: the given name and all it represents are to be understood as functionally dead. To transition, by the logic of its advocates, is to kill one’s self metaphorically, supposedly so that you will not be impelled to literal suicide. A gender transition is a rejection of one’s given nature, obviously, but in an acutely painful situation for parents, it is also an erasure of history. It is a retroactive usurpation and denial of the greatest responsibility, and often the greatest source of meaning, a parent has ever been given.

In all the chatter about the supposedly final frontier of LGBT, despite constant reminders of the fluidity of gender and the limitedness of limits, the topic of parents is clearly circumscribed. The standard procedure required for parents of transgender youth is, of course, to “accept” their child’s new sexual identity. This means that parents must approve the chemical castration, facilitate the physical castration, and never, ever, under any circumstance, use the name of their baby ever again. For all practical purposes, parents must accept the death, to borrow the terminology from the community itself, of a child. There is no greater pain. There is no greater loss. They must also accept that they will never be grandparents. To add insult to injury, and a dash of Maoism for good measure, the internet demons of unreality subject bewildered and resistant parents to public humiliation and personal cancellation.

Parents, the people who named us, who raised us, and for better or worse remind us of the unkillable aspects of our personalities, are the natural enemy of a movement dedicated to the destruction of all things historical, authoritative, and permanent. Its end goal is to disenfranchise parents—not only by denying their legal and natural authority over their children, but by inflicting the existential trauma of robbing them of the past, present, and future.

What family could withstand such a loss with a smile? Who could hide their heartbreak forever, living in bovine subservience to the legacy-destroying whims encouraged in their mentally ill children by predatory ideologues in the virtual world and Doctors Frankenstein in the real? The fact that these immediate social externalities of “transitioning” are never really taken into account, except to silence or minimize parental grief, indicates a radical hatred of family that those who dare to resist should not ignore.

Perhaps it is the implicit dubiousness of radically individual self-creation that causes these people to become tyrannical in the real-life application of their online fantasies. The further we stray from the truth, the darker and more desperate our lives become. Suicide rates for post-op transgender people remain high, despite the oft-peddled lie that “affirmation” and “validation,” especially from parents, cures dysphoria. In the end, one question remains for too many parents to answer: which name will go on their child’s tombstone?