Deadnaming — What Elliot Page’s Public Transition Can Teach Us

Posted by on Dec 13, 2020 in Education Issues, Media | 0 comments

Deadnaming — What Elliot Page’s Public Transition Can Teach Us

Elliot Page, an actor known for roles in Juno, X-Men films, and their current Oscar-nominated role in The Umbrella Academy, has started a flurry of online discussions after coming out as transgender.

These discussions focused on the practice of “deadnaming” a transgender person. Deadnaming means referring to a person who is transgender by the name they used before they transitioned. Not everyone likes that terms, so you might also hear it called (and you can say instead) their “birth name,” “given name,” or “former name.”

When we know that someone has transitioned, it can be a mental challenge at first to adhere to a trans person’s new, affirmed name. Sadly, some people may refuse to acknowledge the change altogether. But affirming someone by using their new name is important for their mental health by validating their identity, and not using their new name can out them to others as trans, can anxiety and stress, and even put them in danger of experiencing discrimination or harassment.

When Elliot announced their transition (and indicated their pronouns are he/them), dozens of headlines and news stories pronounced “FormerName Page Comes Out as Transgender” or “Umbrella Academy Star Elliot Page, Formerly Known as GivenName, Is Transitioning.”

These headlines were distressing for a lot of trans people to read. For decades, the transgender community has been fighting for names to be respected. There are even resource guides for media to help journalists write about a trans person in a respectful way.

Elliot is famous and their former name is widely known. They also have a body of work and credits under that name. They worked with GLAAD before coming out publicly to decide what they were okay with seeing in the news and how they would prefer their name change be conducted. Together, they agreed to offer guidance that their former name could be used once, in making the announcement of their transition, just for the sake of clarity with fans. But once the announcement was made, they — like the vast majority of trans people — want their new name to be used as a sign of respect and affirmation.

This is incredibly important for people to understand. That decision does not mean it’s okay for anyone else to use the former name of a trans person in their life. And if they don’t know the trans person’s prior name, they certainly shouldn’t ask! That’s a basic of trans etiquette.

What should we all say? “Congratulations, Elliot. We are so happy for you and excited that you can now live your life fully and authentically.”

PSA for Parents Navigating their First Holidays with a Transgender Child

Posted by on Nov 27, 2019 in Personal Thoughts | 0 comments

PSA for Parents Navigating their First Holidays with a Transgender Child

A lot of folks start decorating for the holidays around Thanksgiving, so it’s a good time to take stock of what those decorations are now before any kids are involved…especially if this is your *first* year since your child has come out as transgender.

Think about any personalized decorations you have that might be very gendered or have the birth name on it…stockings, handmade ornaments from preschool with the name painted on the back, an ornament-of-the-year of a football player before you knew Steven as Stephanie or of a girl in pigtails holding a teddybear before you new Stephanie as Stephen…

Ask your child in a separate conversation *before* getting boxes out of the attic how they are feeling and if they would like any of those “memento ornaments” displayed or if they would like you to spend a day finding or crafting some news ones with them. That exercise alone can be a very bonding experience and even if they don’t mind the old items, it could be nice to reimagine their childhood together.

If they would rather not see the old items, find a special place that you can save them or look at them if you are processing any feelings of loss.

The holidays are an emotional time filled with memories. It’s very easy to rush into decorating in that first year to keep things “normal” for the family but that can lead to some awkward or painful moments if a gendered ornament or something with an old name is suddenly put in front of them. A few minutes of pre-planning can save a few weeks of angst. But you’ve got this! Put your child’s needs first and you’ll all get through it.


Trans-Parenting Podcast Episode 9: An Interview with Darlene Tando, LCSW

Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Podcast | 3 comments

In Episode 9 of the Trans-Parenting podcast, I sat down to chat with Darlene Tando, a licensed clinical social worker who recently appeared on the Dr. Phil show. In that episode, a mom and her teen were on to talk about the mom’s struggle accepting her daughter’s transition.

Darlene is also the author of “The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Gender Identity: A Mindful Approach to Embracing Your Child’s Authentic Self,” which you can purchase on Amazon.


As a reminder, we are now on Patreon and would appreciate your financial support! You can pledge as little as $2 per month, and with higher value contributions, you can receive some really cool items!

Trans-Parenting Podcast Episode 8: Q&A session

Posted by on Sep 7, 2016 in Podcast | 1 comment

In this episode, I answer questions I received during a Q&A session on Facebook, with additional questions from private messages and Twitter. Here’s the rundown:

4:40   How old are you?

5:01   How tall are you?

5:38    What do we do in places like North Carolina when we send our kids to school and don’t know if the school will support our child?

10:40   My daughter just started school yesterday and she is having problems with the other kids that she has known awhile who are now shunning her not respecting her choice of a gender neutral name. Her teacher has been of no help. What should we do?

12:53   How would you deal with long time friends becoming distant just because you chose a gender neutral name?

15:15   How do you think the the recent issues with religious liberty — post-Hobby Lobby SCOTUS ruling — are going to affect how schools and businesses handle trans people?

17:08   How do we get dad’s more involved? Almost all the groups I am a part of are majority women/moms.

19:16   Would you speak to the benefits of attending trans-related conferences/symposiums?

21:21   I have just made a new friend who is Christian who accepts me. How can I get other Christians to acknowledge me and love me for who I am? I seek to show love to them as much as possible, but they generally don’t return it. How can I show them it’s not an “Evil Lifestyle”?

25:15   Talk about why to use puberty blockers is important and how starting these gives a child more time to deal with their sexuality and their gender?!?

Be sure to leave your questions in the comments, and they may be featured on the next Q&A session.


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And finally, a great big shout out to my first 2 patrons on Patreon, Willow and Sarah! Thank you both so much for the support. To become a patron, you can visit my page to find out what rewards you can get at the various donation levels!

Trans-Parenting Podcast Episode 7: How to Create a Trans-Inclusive School

Posted by on Aug 3, 2016 in Podcast | 0 comments

What should a school do to become transgender-inclusive? I recently gave the keynote address to the NEA’s GLBT Caucus during their annual dinner telling our not-so-great experience with a school and offering tips on how they could begin creating a safe and affirming space for trans and gender non-conforming students within their schools. You can read the transcript of the speech in the previous blog post, but for those who like podcasts or prefer to hear inflections of a speaker’s voice, this one is for you!

If you would like transgender inclusivity training for your school, visit to see what our training program offers and email me at

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