Campus Reform | Taking a page out of '1984,' Brown University student newspaper will retroactively change transgender students' 'deadnames'

Taking a page out of '1984,' Brown University student newspaper will retroactively change transgender students' 'deadnames'

Brown University’s student newspaper revealed that it would edit transgender-identifying students’ former names out of old articles.

The editors will refrain from including an editors’ note with any changes because “such a note would risk outing the individual and causing harm.”

Brown University’s student newspaper announced that it would edit transgender-identifying students’ former names out of old articles.

The editorial board of the Brown Daily Herald announced that it would “respect individuals’ current and lived identities” by adopting “new policy regarding requests from transgender or nonbinary individuals to replace their deadname and/or change their pronouns featured in previously published work on The Herald’s website.”

As defined by Dictionary.com, a “deadname” is “the name that a transgender person was given at birth and no longer uses upon transitioning.” For instance, BBC News was roundly criticized in September for “deadnaming” Caitlyn Jenner by calling him “Bruce.”

[RELATED: Brown University police chief resigns amid 'defund the police' demands]

The Herald added that it would “make the gender-affirming changes online in a timely manner and without a correction or editor’s note marking the change.”

The editors plan to refrain from including an editors’ note because “such a note would risk outing the individual and causing harm.”

“We think this policy reflects both our commitment to accuracy and our ethical obligation to minimize harm,” said the announcement. “We are eager to see how other newsrooms, both our student peers and at professional news organizations, address this and similar questions in the coming months and years.”

Among America’s top postsecondary institutions, Brown University carries a unique reputation for student activism.

Most recently, 85 percent of the Brown University student body approved a referendum question that gave the school permission to pursue reparations for descendants of slaves.

[RELATED: Brown University students overwhelmingly vote in favor of reparations]

Campus Reform reached out to the Brown Daily Herald for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft