Being called a chosen name boosts trans people’s mental health

Call me by my chosen name and I'll call you by yours

A name is something most of us take for granted, but a new study has shown that referring to a transgender person with the name they have chosen could reduce their risk of depression and suicide.

Researchers from the University of Texas spoke with transgender people aged between 15 and 21 to find out whether their names were used in four different areas of life: work, school, with friends and at home. The study found that trans people who were referred to by their chosen names in all four scenarios experienced 71% fewer symptoms of depression, 34% fewer symptoms of suicidal tendencies and a 65% decrease in attempted suicide, in comparison to those who were not able to use their names across all areas.

One of the authors of the study, Stephen T. Russell, explained the findings: “Many kids who are transgender have chosen a name that is different than the one that they were given at birth," he told UT News. “We showed that the more contexts or settings where they were able to use, the stronger their mental health was.”  In other words, the more situations a young trans person is able to use their chosen name – an act that you can argue represents social acceptance of their trans identity – the more their mental health is boosted.

“It's practical to support young people in using the name that they choose,” Russell added. “It’s respectful and developmentally appropriate.”