Mastercard Is Ditching Deadnames On Cards & 3 Trans And Non-Binary Canadians Weighed In
This is a Canadian first.
Canada has a reputation as a country of acceptance, inclusivity and diversity. And while great strides have been made to make this a welcoming place for everyone, there's still a way to go.
When it comes to LGBTQ2S+ rights, there are still gender-based policies and norms that get in the way of all Canadians feeling accepted and included.
Bank cards, for instance, can be a big source of distress for anyone who no longer goes by their given name.
According to recent Mastercard research, 90% of trans people know what it’s like to have to use an ID with a name or gender that doesn't match their presentation.
More than 40% described feeling anxious, embarrassed or frustrated as a result. And 43% reported having been verbally harassed because they’re trans.
Recognizing that not being able to use their chosen name on their banking card was a pain point for trans and non-binary folks, Mastercard created the True Name feature.
True Name by Mastercard allows individuals to have their chosen name reflected on their banking card without the requirement of a legal name change. BMO is the first Canadian financial institution to offer the True Name by Mastercard feature in Canada.
It's one of many small changes that can make a big difference in the fight for LGBTQ2S+ rights and equality.
Narcity spoke to trans and non-binary individuals Jordan Adrienne, Emme Reynolds and Asher DiGiuseppe about their experiences, the challenges they face and how Canada can join Mastercard in better supporting the LGBTQ2S+ community.
"I had my own 'aha' moment where everything started to make sense about my life where it hadn't before," Jordan told Narcity.
With support from family, friends and coworkers, Jordan sought out HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and legally changed her name — two long, yet gratifying, processes.
"For the past five years, I have been on hormone therapy and have gone through the process of having my legal documents changed which has been life changing to say the least," she said.
"With each step of my journey, I have felt more whole and I can’t help but think my inner child would be proud at how far I have come."
Emme Reynolds came out as a non-binary trans parent in their 40s and has found that there's no age at which you stop learning about yourself.
Though it was a long and difficult journey, Emme attributes a lot of their self-discovery to how they've raised their own kids.
"We talk to them about gender and identity and expression and what all of this means and the more we taught them, the more I started to learn about myself," Emme told Narcity.
Now, Emme shares a lot of their personal journey via Instagram, using the platform to hold vulnerable conversations around identity and support other people on similar journeys.
"You’re not alone is basically the thing people end up realizing when they spend some time chatting with me," said Emme.
"I've really tried to talk about the difficult times and how those don't disqualify you from being completely valid."
After identifying as a masculine lesbian for four years, Asher DiGiuseppe came out as trans around his 20th birthday.
"There was a lot of self-reflection involved in coming to terms with my identity," Asher told Narcity.
"It was truly a matter of being honest with myself about what I wanted and how I felt."
Asher was able to get support from his family and friends during his medical transition six months later.
"Starting testosterone and socially transitioning saved my life," he said.
"I’ve become more comfortable and confident in my body and mind and have been able to treat the relationships in my life with more love and respect as a result of having more love and respect for myself."
Asher, who's also a photographer, uses social media to connect with others on similar journeys and broaden his understanding of other identities.
Challenges Of Being Trans In Canada
When asked about the main challenges faced by trans and non-binary Canadians, Emme, Asher and Jordan all talked about the name-changing process.
"The course of filling out long forms with a large margin to make mistakes, as well as an expensive fee to apply for the necessary changes, makes this process not easily accessible and leaves people without the option of legally changing their name," said Asher.
The True Name by Mastercard feature aims to ease some of the frustration around the name-changing process by allowing anyone to display their chosen name on their payment card.
"The True Name by Mastercard feature means so much to me personally," said Jordan.
"I am so grateful this initiative now exists, so that the people who come after me don’t have to suffer as much."
Asher agreed, noting that having an institution recognize this struggle and offer a solution is "a huge step forward."
"It will relieve so much daily anxiety that people have around using their credit card in social settings and allow for much smoother interactions in so many situations," he said.
While True Name is a great step, there’s more work to be done to combat the discrimination, violence and oppression commonly faced by LGBTQ2S+ Canadians.
"There’s still so much terminology and legislation and media that focuses on a binary," Emme told Narcity.
"It makes it really difficult to exist in a place that doesn't show you or isn't set up for you."
For Asher, navigating the health-care system as a trans person can be especially challenging.
"The lack of available care and incredibly long wait times for everything from intake appointments to surgeries can make such an affirming process feel so frustrating and in some cases can be a real detriment to folks' mental health," he said.
Standing Up For Canada’s LGBTQ2S+ Community
When it comes to supporting the LGBTQ2S+ community, Asher believes that Canadians have to go beyond Pride celebrations and social media.
"Being an ally is doing the work to learn more about the history of our communities," he said.
"It’s supporting LGBTQ2S+ owned businesses, donating directly to charities that support our youth and those in need."
Introducing yourself with your pronouns (whether you're trans or not), calling out violence against queer and trans folk and continuing to educate yourself on terminology and intersectionality are small things everyone can do to better support LGBTQ2S+ Canadians.
"By putting these things into practice, allies will help to change the culture around gender identity and expression, and ideally will make society a safer place not only for the transgender community, but for all people," said Asher.
True Name by Mastercard is now available at BMO, and for Emme, it’s already making a difference.
"It's the first card I've ever had with my name on it so it's actually a really special and wonderful feeling for me," they said.
"These spontaneous moments of euphoria are always so welcome. They serve as wonderful counters to the dysphoria that's out there! It's been a chance to start making those changes in a way that feels more formal and is the start of a process I might be able to finally take on."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.