Well one store is doing something about it.
Left Bank Books' New Checkout System Ends Dead Naming of Trans ShoppersWouldn’t it be nice if every business did that?
River Front Times
By Riley Mack
Sep 17, 2020
“Imagine that somebody learned what your name is but kept calling you something else, insisting that’s who you are,” says Jarek Steele, co-owner of Left Bank Books in the Central West End. “It makes you feel like you’re being a fraud, like you’re lying — but you’re not.”
With this in mind, Steele vowed to change the existing online retail system that allows trans people to be invalidated.
On Sept. 9, these ideas finally came to fruition. Left Bank Books became possibly the first indie bookstore to use an e-commerce system that accepts preferred names rather than legal names, specifically aimed at helping trans people checkout with their post-transition identity.
Steele originally came up with the idea when his friend, in the midst of her transition, ordered books from their website. Because she had not legally changed her name yet, all further communications from Left Bank used her former name.
I transitioned almost 20 years ago and I still get mail in my deadname and it tells me that they bought up some old list of names. Once in a while I get a spam call and they use my old name and I tell truthfully that nobody by that name live here.
But national didn’t like that idea… they would rather turn away customers than change.
For a few years, the ABA turned down Steele’s requests, saying that there was too much coding involved. Steele created his own workaround, where the Bookstore’s employees would input preferred names manually. Through each sale, this was how Steele and Left Bank Books advocated for their customers.You know that it is just not book sellers but every business needs to do this.
Steele decided this was unacceptable. Reaching out to the ABA again, he argued that the system “needs to work as well for trans people as it does for cisgender people.”
This time, they listened. Now, at the checkout, the system requires a preferred name, which defaults in all the communications to their customers.
One of the state agency committees that I am on is changing the form for when you change nursing homes or hospitals and your medical records need to be forwarded to the other facility. One of the changes that we want added is “Preferred Name,” we had a little push-back but we countered that it is not just trans people who use their preferred name rather than their legal name. For an example Richard might use the name Dick instead of Richard.
However, with the new retail system implemented, Steele knows that his business will never add to the plentiful struggles of trans people. In fact, when the ABA sent news of the successful update, “I practically danced around the room,” Steele says.It is small battles like this mean so much to us. Yes, it is nice to get anti-discrimination laws passed but we will hopefully never need to file a discrimination complaint but everyday we face microagressions like deadnaming.