Google workers are pushing the company to use preferred names on ID badges and drop deadnames

Google workers are pushing the company to use preferred names on ID badges and drop deadnames
The Alphabet Workers union launched a petition calling for Google to stop requiring trans workers to use deadnames on company badges.Ng Han Guan/AP Photo
  • The Alphabet Workers Union launched a new campaign urging Google to #DropTheDeadnames.
  • Their petition asks Google to stop requiring trans workers to use names they no longer identify with on company ID badges.
  • Many businesses, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, are working to create more gender-inclusive work environments.

The Alphabet Workers Union on Tuesday launched a #DropTheDeadnames petition calling on Google and GS4, a Google security contractor, to "stop requiring trans workers to use deadnames on company badges and internal communications."

Deadname refers to the name that a transgender or non-binary person was given at birth and with which they may no longer identify or use in daily life.

The recently formed union is asking the company to create a "chosen name policy" which would allow all workers, contractors, and full-time employees to choose the display name on company badges instead of legal names.

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They're also asking Google to allow temporary employees, vendors, and contractors to meet with employee resource groups. Google currently only allows full-time employees access to these resources.

Tuesday's petition comes after the union learned that Phares Lee, a contractor and G4S employee, was denied "multiple times over the years" when he sought to have his deadname dropped from both his badge and the company's internal communications system. The union said he was misgendered multiple times, and his requests to put a nickname over his badge were denied.


"I've been facing workplace issues that feel like discrimination to my gender identity, but it's not just about me as an individual," Lee said in a press release. "Google and G4S need to make changes so that no one else has to go through what I've had to."

A Google spokesperson told Insider that the company has "long had processes in place so employees and members of our extended workforce can update our systems with their preferred name, pronouns, and identity, and they can also change their preferred name for their badges."

Gs4 workers are welcome at ERG events, the spokesperson said, so long as they have permission from their employer.

Following the company's assertion that all employees have the option to use preferred names on badges and other software, an Alphabet Workers Union spokesperson said this "is a case of Google not holding its contractor responsible for its actions," to ensure the same treatment.

A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Public Health estimates that 0.39% of adults in the US identify as transgender. At Alphabet - which has more than 135,000 employees worldwide, not including contractors, as of 2020 - that rate could imply hundreds of workers who identify as transgender within its ranks.


In recent years, some institutions have already taken steps to create a more gender-inclusive environment. According to NPR, the University of Vermont has added proper gender pronouns to class rosters. Jeane Robles, a student at the university told NPR, "Just having the option to do that makes me feel like I can exist here."

Slack, the workplace instant messaging tool, in May added a dedicated pronouns field. Other apps, including Lyft, OkCupid, and Instagram also have pronoun options for users.

But updating old systems to use modern lingo isn't always easy. For an employee of Goldman Sachs who came out as trans in 2019, the New York Times reported, her team was welcoming and accommodating. Still, there was a slight hiccup when she was briefly misidentified by the firm's security apparatus, which at first printed out her ID with the wrong name.

"It's appalling that Alphabet and its contractors are still enacting such regressive policies regarding deadnames in the workplace," Raksha Muthukumar, an Alphabet Workers Union Member, said in a press release. "No one should face this kind of emotional violence every day at work, especially considering what a public spectacle Alphabet makes of being LGBT friendly."