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“What’s in a name?”

Shakespeare most famously asked the question “What’s in a name?” His conclusion was “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet,” but does that idea really hold water? Does what you call a thing or, more importantly, what you call a person really not matter? In reality, name and identity are bound up together for most people, and what you call a person has the potential to evoke strong emotions whether positive or negative. Ask any person given the name Karen with familial love how they feel about their name being hijacked to represent the vile, self-righteous and entitled “Karens” of the world today. The name, their name, given to them at birth, now making them uneasy as it lumps them in with a group to which they do not belong nor care to be associated with.

Many in the Queer community, discover that same alarming uneasiness around their name and other labels. That uneasiness grows more and more as they grow into their queer identity. Birth names, gender-specific pronouns, and sexual identity labels just do not seem to fit anymore. Worse yet, these names and labels begin to feel more and more oppressive until they feel like a violation of their person, and a betrayal of their true identity for those who remain silenced. A name, a pronoun, a label imposed on them every day over and over again can fill them with disgust at the sound it.

For many, the name must die for the person to find peace. The dead-name is replaced by a chosen-name which can represent hope, self-acceptance, and freedom. Laying a name to rest and choosing a new name can be essential for emotional health and the ongoing human process of developing identity with authenticity.  So if asked what is in a name? I say, everything, even life itself. 



Related external content*

Link to Chris Mosier’s Quote Post:

“Dead-naming is an act of violence. Please Stop.” 

Link to a poem by JasperLauter:

“Dead name” 

Link to print art piece by Jae Rainbow

“Trans Deadname- not my name”


(*Please note: Our Mosaic does not have any affiliation with the external sites or with the individual content creators referenced above. At the time of posting the link(s), there is relevant content that we feel our readers might find useful or interesting, however, we have no control of how external link content might change over time, and we do not endorse in part or in whole the content within the external sites or view points of the content creators. Please see our External Links Policy for further information.)