A transgender student said she feels like there is no “hope for the future” after a high school listed her dead name as a candidate for Homecoming King.
A person’s dead name refers to the name of someone who is transgender before they transitioned, and is also described as a “birth name” or “given name.”
Grace Grabner is a senior at Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Grabner identifies as female, and has for the past six years.
She was horrified to find her dead name included with names of other male students on a homecoming list that was distributed to the school’s 2,500 students.
You can watch the news report on the incident here.
Even though the school administration removed Grabner’s name from the list at the insistence of her mother, she is considering transferring to another school to finish her senior year.
Grabner told WPTA:
“It was embarrassing and it took me back to middle school and remind me of everything that happened in middle school and how people treated me.”
"I've been out for six years and I thought they should've known that." Openly transgender Carroll High School senior Grace Gabner says the use of her male birth name on the homecoming king list was embarrassing, striking a blow to her year. https://t.co/f4KyiaR7xy
— WFFT FOX 55 Fort Wayne (@FOX55FortWayne) September 17, 2020
Lizette Downey, a Northwest Allen County Schools spokeswoman, explained the mistake was a computer error and that the school accepted full responsibility.
Downey told the news outlet:
“We made a mistake on our end and we apologize profusely that this error happened where we inadvertently took one student who should have been on one list and put them on the opposite list.”
“That was our responsibility and our fault, and we feel terrible about it.”
Grabner wants the school to address the bullying culture associated with transgender and non-binary students and the lack of support for marginalized youth.
“I think we need to work on that as a school and as a community, we need to work on making a safer place for queer youth and LGBT+ people.”
carroll high school allowed students to nominate a transgender woman as homecoming KING & while kids continue to joke, the school has done/said nothing. we stand w you grace.@carrollchargers
— Lauren Sanderson (@LaurenSanderson) September 15, 2020
Grabner’s childhood friend and Carroll High School alumni Olivia Haggard started an online petition to support Grabner and raise awareness for transphobia.
Haggard told WFFT:
“Not only was it to raise awareness about what happened with Grace but it was to open the discussion and show Carroll that it’s not okay.”
Haggard said the school’s use of Grabner’s dead name is harmful and could potentially be a fatal mistake.
“Who knows if they’re depressed or considering suicide. This could’ve been the last straw for Grace.”
According to Haggard, Carroll High School has a history of “invalidating its LGBTQ+ community,” including preventing transgender students from using appropriate bathrooms and “intercepting the advertisement of GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) club meetings.”
Sad and disgusted by the way the school handled this. Please sign and share.
— ana 🦂 (@ana00hr) September 15, 2020
Damn, do no ADULTS work in that school? Shame on all of them. They need to do better.
— social distance forever (@kraczkhousekeyz) September 15, 2020
Come on school. Get it together. This is terrifying. You have sanctioned a scary place for this poor girl. Protect your kids. All of them. And some need extra protection
— Amy McKenzie (@comedy_u) September 19, 2020
“Get people to notice how wrong this behavior is. Because it’s important for people to know how insensitive it is for anybody older or younger than me to experience.”
Grabner is currently in the process of legally changing her name.