Skip to content

Southern Alberta transgender advocate concerned by yearbook deadnaming

Four transgender students from an Okotoks high school were identified by their deadname says an advocate.
Foothills Composite High School graduate Remi Laboucane is concerned after being one of at least four transgender students deadnamed in this year's yearbook.

According to a student at Foothills Composite High School,  in Okotoks, south of Calgary, this year's yearbook continues a trend of deadnaming students.

Merriam-Webster defines "deadname" as "the name that a transgender person was given at birth and no longer uses upon transitioning."

An email sent to Foothills Composite High School administration by concerned student Remi Laboucane states the yearbook, released on June 12, deadnames at least four transgender students.

"This is a dangerous issue that has come up multiple times in the past; the fact that this frustrating, disappointing memory is what I am left with for my graduating year makes me very angry," reads the email.

Laboucane added that deadnaming is harmful to transgender youth for multiple reasons.

"It can seriously damage a person’s view of the person who deadnamed them and can dangerously take a toll on the individual’s mental health," reads the email.

"Another reason why deadnaming a student is an issue is it can 'out' an individual to their peers, and it is a gamble on who will accept their identity," added Laboucane in the email.

In an interview, Laboucane went into more detail on the implications of deadnaming and related incidents.

"[A name is] more than just a word that's on paper," Laboucane said. "It's being an individual and having an identity, having that connected to your person rather than your birth name."

Laboucane, who said the yearbook is put together by faculty and students, wants the school to resolve the issue.

"I suggest that these yearbooks be recalled and republished with the correct names. I do not care that this is a loss of funding for the yearbook, this is a wrong that needs to be righted," reads the email.

Foothills Composite High School and the Foothills School Division did not respond to requests for comment by the Western Wheel, but in a direct response to Laboucane's email, Foothills Composite principal Kerry Welsh affirmed that she is committed to making things right.

"I remember this same concern in Grade 9 when you graduated and once again you are faced with the same challenge of deadnaming. On behalf [of the yearbook team], I am sorry you have to endure this again and I am sorry to hear others were impacted," she wrote.

Welsh added that while the publisher is unable to reprint any quantity of yearbooks, the school "is able to purchase high quality paper and cover pages to ensure students have their names in their yearbooks instead of the deadname" and that the team has a plan to ensure that deadnaming does not occur going forward.

Laboucane, who will be meeting with school staff and working with them to ensure this does not happen again, hopes such advocacy will create meaningful change.

"What's happened with the yearbook has happened," Laboucane said. "It's there's, not a lot that can be done at this point, but I would like to see more attention to be drawn to it and more attention made drawn to the LGBTQ community and how they're treated, especially here in Okotoks."

The incident comes shortly after 2024 Pride Foothills Wide was celebrated, which in turn occurred shortly after an incident of anti-Pride vandalism in Okotoks.

The deadnaming incident comes in light of Government of Alberta legislation announced in February regarding name and pronoun changes by youth, including requiring parental consent for youth 15 and under and requiring the parents of youth ages 16 and 17 to be notified. The legislation is set to be implemented in the fall but has sparked significant concern recently.

"If it is an issue with the government, then I'll take that further, but right now, I'm just trying to keep it local and make sure it doesn't happen again," said Laboucane.

Amir Said

About the Author: Amir Said

Amir Said is a reporter and photographer with the Western Wheel covering local news in Okotoks and Foothills County. For story tips or questions about his articles, Amir can be reached at [email protected].
Read more

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks