Oldnaming is bullying

Oldnaming us is just one way the media bullies trans people, implies our gender isn’t “real”, keeps us in our place.

The trans woman who made this comment on Twitter understands that what we call each other isn’t always a neutral thing: it can be about hierarchies, relationships, intimacy, othering, power. Insisting on using a trans person’s old name, the name they had before transitioning, is a way of showing that you don’t accept their transition. Revealing their old name to others is a way of trying to deny the social reality of that person’s transition.

Of course sometimes mistakes are genuine. If you’ve known Chris as Chris for ten years, you might slip up on the naming when Chris becomes Jessica. Stuff takes time. But some people will actually go to the trouble of asking for a trans person’s “old name” (or, worse, “real name”) when they’ve been introduced using the new name. Then they’ll use the old name, fake-accidentally or otherwise. Socially, this is asshole behaviour. It’s the reason why some trans people are very reluctant to reveal their old name. And in the media, it’s all too common.

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