Imagine the heartbreak: Your child is about to graduate, but the school informs you that they won’t be using your beloved child’s name when they call him to the stage. In fact, they’ll be calling him something that causes him great pain and humiliation: They want to call your trans teen by his deadname.
This is real life for one family in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Brian Thomas is the father of Wyatt, and Thomas has started a petition requesting that his son’s chosen name be used during the graduation ceremony:
“My transgender child is a senior this year and will graduate in early June. He has been going by his preferred name since the summer between his freshman and sophomore year. Teachers, pastors, managers, family and friends know him as a boy named Wyatt. But at graduation, because of an unwritten standard the school administration is unwilling to change, he will be called by his dead name. What is meant to be a celebration will instead be yet another moment of humiliation and embarrassment,” Thomas wrote to Dr. Park Ginder, the principal of Homestead High of Fort Wayne, where Wyatt matriculates.
“As Wyatt’s parents, we ask that our wishes be honored on behalf of our precious child. Call the name he will bear legally once the lengthy process of a name change is complete. Call him what his future university calls him. Call him what we and many others call him every day. Call him Wyatt.”
It’s not difficult. So why is the school refusing? Is it spite? Is it hatred? What would make a high school dig in its heels about something so petty and cruel? “Deadnaming” — using a transgender person’s unwanted original name — is abuse by invalidation. Not to mention the use of that name can also “out” a trans individual to those who may not have known in the first place. This is brutality, make no mistake. And the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association recommends that schools and other institutions uphold chosen names of transgender people and update all records, even if lengthy name change processes — such as in the case of Wyatt — are not yet complete.
Are people signing the petition? Thankfully, yes. And you can too, here. The comments of support are worth reading; they definitely help restore our hope in humanity:
“As a transgender woman, I personally know how shockingly painful it is to be called by one’s dead name, particularly on purpose. Sending strength, solidarity, and love to Wyatt.”
“The name you insist on calling out during commencement belongs to no one. Please use Wyatt’s name that he has sacrificed much in order to claim.”
Ty Thomas, Wyatt’s brother, wrote, “Because my brother deserves this. He’s worked hard to find himself these past few years, and being called by his preferred name would be a symbolic culmination of his high school years.”
The petition is currently up to almost 13,000 signatures out of a hoped-for 15,000. Go be the change — and let’s make sure Dr. Park Ginder of Homestead High understands that “deadnaming” is a devastating form of trans abuse that no high school should be partaking in.