Use of Deadnames on Zoom Causes Uneasiness Amongst Transgender and Non-Binary Youth


Visual representation on how students says being deadnamed feels.

Kenny Graninger, Staff Writer

Students have faced many problems when using Zoom for classes throughout the school year. One overlooked and unaddressed issue is the use of deadnames on the conferencing app. Deadnames are the birth names of people who have changed their names. It is commonly used in the LGBTQ+ community, especially those that are transgender and/or non-binary. 

Sophomore student Nora Straussriggs was asked if the use of her deadname in class makes her uncomfortable to which she responded by saying “extremely”. Other students like senior Mara Hanson and junior Avery Gardner felt the same way. Gardner says “Yes, the use of my deadname in class does make me really uncomfortable. It really hurts to hear it, especially in front of a class because then they’ll associate me with that name.” But Hanson explains that she has personally learned to ignore it because it has been happening her entire career in school.

Students also feel the pressure when they see their deadname on their school work, making it a little more difficult to concentrate and put in their best work. Gardner talks about that if he sees his deadname on his work then he doesn’t participate at all. He says “in class if my teacher doesn’t manually change my name then I don’t participate at all because I don’t want my work to be shown under that name.” He also explains that seeing his deadname gives him anxiety which takes his attention away from the work at hand. However, not all students feel this way when it comes to seeing their deadnames on their schoolwork. Hanson states that it has no bearing on her work as a student. Along with this Straussriggs feels similar explaining that she can change it with a chrome extension called ‘Deadname Remover’, which replaces the student’s deadname with their preferred name on all of their work. Although not all students have the luxury of this extension considering that it is blocked on school Chromebooks which a lot of students use for their classes. 

Other classmates and teachers also come into play when deadname are used in class. Straussriggs says that she has never been intentionally deadnamed by a student or teacher, as for her pronouns she isn’t sure if they respect them because she is never around when they talk about her. Gardner and Hanson both inform their teachers ahead of time about their new names and the preferred pronouns. Gardner states “All of my classmates and teachers know my name because I send an email to them before going to their class for the first time.” explaining how he communicates to his teachers about his situation.

In zoom calls, teachers have the option to change the names of students in their classes to that of which they would like to be called. Gardner says that he asks his teacher every day to change his name in the call. Although helpful, Gardner says that “They all do it because they know it’s important but it feels so unnecessary.” He says that students should have a much easier way to change their names themselves permanently without the trouble of constantly asking the teacher. Hanson and Straussriggs agree upon this idea but feel as if there should be a way to change it in SchoolMax without changing their name through a legal transaction. Hanson explains that it would make it easier when there are substitutes because while regular teachers might know the student’s correct name, the substitute will just read off the roster and call the student’s deadname. This whole debacle is something that needs to be brought to light more and taken more seriously if students are to feel safer and work better in a school environment.