How to deal with dead naming and misgendering

Trigger warning: As the title suggests, I will be discussing deadnaming and misgendering.


If you are non-binary, trans, or gender nonconforming and have changed your name at some point, chances are you have dealt with people deadnaming or misgendering you at some point. Being deadnamned is a very unpleasant experience that can leave you feeling lost or wanting to have nothing to do with yourself. It’s something no one should have to deal with, but unfortunately it happens every day, whether it’s by accident or on purpose. Misgendering is usually more common than deadnaming due to the habit society has of gendering everything. Honest mistakes happen but that doesn’t overshadow the gut sinking feeling it can come with.

Dead naming means that someone refers to someone with a name they don’t use anymore. For instance my birth name is Ashley but I go by Ash. Ash is my preferred name. Ashley is my dead name. Dead names should never be used at all but especially by those close to the person with a preferred name. If you know someone who has changed their name and you chose to not use that name, you are blatantly disrespecting them and repeatedly using someone’s dead name can cause a lot of damage that you may never even see. Along with that if someone has corrected you on the use of a dead name and you continue to use it, that is even more painful, especially if the person trying to correct you is that person with a preferred name.

Misgendering someone refers to the use of incorrect pronouns. For example my pronouns are they/them. If you use she/her pronouns that is disrespectful and should not be used. The same goes for gendering as with dead naming. If you are aware of someone’s pronouns, use them. If you are unaware of someone’s pronouns, simply ask. It’s not a big deal and actually boosts confidence, and from personal experience it can also increase trust. If you know someone’s pronouns and you chose not to use them, that is not okay whatsoever. If you have been corrected and still do not use the right pronouns, that is considered even more disrespectful.


If you find yourself in a situation where you need to tell someone that you have new pronouns or a new preferred name, stay calm and if you can come prepared. It is always a good idea to have a back up plan or someone you trust to help you leave the situation. If you have any doubts at all as to how it will go, make sure you have a plan in place to make sure you are safe. Your safety is paramount in situations like this where you may be more vulnerable.

If you are ever dead named or misgendered, it can be hard to correct someone, especially if it is your first time or if you have recently come out. It’s okay if you don’t start correcting people right away, there’s no shame in not having the strength to do it. If you are having trouble correcting people, you might find it easier to correct friends first, or even people in passing. I work in retail so if a customer refers to me as female or uses she/her pronouns, I will correct them. It is an easy way to start getting used to it. Once you feel comfortable enough, start correcting those directly around you and see how it goes. Remember that it is always up to you to decide how long it is okay for people to still adjust to your name and pronouns. If they don’t respect that line, you are well within your right to say something and ask them to do better. Having these boundaries creates a better defined space for us to respect ourselves and make sure we are okay.


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