July 14th, 2024

‘Dead to me’: Alberta transgender teen takes action after being deadnamed in yearbook

By Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press on July 6, 2024.

Remi Laboucane, shown in a handout photo, says he was overcome with frustration when he saw he had been identified by the female sounding name he was given at birth next to his yearbook's graduation photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Remi Laboucane **MANDATORY CREDIT**

Remi Laboucane says memories of being bullied were finally fading, memories so awful he switched schools.

He was graduating from high school this summer, ready for life’s next chapter, when he opened his yearbook to see that he and other transgender students at Foothills Composite High School in Okotoks, Alta., had been deadnamed.

“It was just a nightmare,” the 18-year-old said in an interview.

“I wrote a letter (to our principal) and I said, ‘This isn’t OK, and this needs to be fixed.’

“Being called by my first name, even by accident, is just weird. It reminded me of the past, and those memories are not always good to look back on.”

Deadnaming refers to the name a transgender person was given at birth but no longer uses after transitioning.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary called it one of the most searched words in its online dictionary in 2023. Transgender advocates say as awareness increases, so does the practice of deadnaming.

Laboucane said being deadnamed reminded him of the difficult times he faced before he started high school, when he was bullied by peers for coming out as non-binary.

“Then when I came out as a trans person, it just got worse. I was just like, ‘I can’t do this,'” he said.

“I said to my mom, ‘I want to move schools, and then I enrolled into Foothills.”

By the time high school began, Laboucane had chosen his new name and notified school administration.

His teachers changed his name on their attendance lists and high school went by smoothly with “no trouble,” Laboucane said – until the yearbook.

The school and school division have taken action.

The school said it will reprint pages with the correct names and make them available to anyone who bought a yearbook.

Foothills School Division said it is making changes to its yearbook guidelines to ensure deadnaming doesn’t happen again.

“We understand how upsetting and hurtful this error is for the students and their families who were affected, as well as for the entire (school) community,” the division said in a statement.

Kristopher Wells, the Canada Research Chair for the Public Understanding of Sexual and Gender Minority Youth, said the concept of deadnaming has been happening for years.

He said it has gained prominence recently, especially on social media, as governments worldwide pass legislation to curtail LGBTQ+ rights.

“Deadnaming came up colloquially or from the slogan, “˜That’s not my identity; that person is dead to me,'” said Wells, a professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton.

When people deadname, he said, it’s often to prove a scornful point.

“It’s often used in a very discriminatory way,” he said. “(It) is really an assault on their identity.

“It’s premised on this notion that gender identity is not real.”

Wells said deadnaming could soon become a bigger issue in Canada, given changes in some provinces.

In Saskatchewan, the government invoked the Charter’s notwithstanding clause last year to pass a law requiring parental consent for students under 16 to change their names or pronouns in school. New Brunswick also put in a policy requiring parental consent for those under 16.

In Alberta, the government has promised to make changes so students 15 and under need parental consent. Students 16 and 17 won’t need consent, but their parents would still have to be notified.

Wells and Laboucane said such policies risk outing transgender and non-binary youth to their families, potentially placing them in harm’s way.

“Sadly, the reality is not all parents support their LGBTQ children,” said Wells.

Laboucane added, “(The policies)make it feel like the world is against you.

“A lot of people need to understand.

“It can be very freeing to go by a different name.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2024.

– With files from Mickey Djuric in Ottawa and The Associated Press

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Southern Albertan

This, a fairly long and pertinent read in its entirety:
“What Does the Bible Say About Transgender People?”

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