IntroductionSince I'm writing this post, I think the way I found out about what happened is as good a place to start as any:
I got home from work and saw I had a DM. I looked, and saw a screencap of a message with one word scribbled out before a user's name. I tracked down the original message, noted that the scribbled word was the user's deadname, and immediately replied to that message with one telling the user to edit it.
The scribbled-out deadname in the screencap was not for the sake of the person being deadnamed; the image wasn't even sent to them. It was scribbled out because seeing someone consciously and intentionally deadnamed is hurtful to anyone who's experienced it themselves or has seen what it's done to their friends who have experienced it.
Why This Is An IssueSomeone who hasn't experienced either of those things wouldn't know that.
They wouldn't know the way your stomach drops, the sick feeling you get knowing you spent years of your life as a version of yourself that wasn't truly you. The feeling that you still can't truly be you in fear of how those around you will react. The hesitation to put your name (birth name, gendered nickname) on anything because it doesn't feel right, the unease when your name is brought up, even in good contexts, for the same reason. They wouldn't understand.
How do you explain when they immediately become defensive and claim "overreaction" when they're called out on it?
Are we obligated to be able to calmly explain this to anybody at any given moment? What's the point if they don't care enough to educate themselves on the matter? If they won't try to educate themselves, who's to say they'll even listen to us?
Someone who has never experienced that, either first-hand or through the reaction of a friend, does not get to have their immediate reaction be "this is a non-issue" or "you're overreacting", because they don't know how it feels.
Addressing A QuestionThe question of "is this how you would have reacted if someone who didn't know used the deadname?" has come up multiple times, and in my opinion suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue.
The answer to that question is no.
If someone made an innocent mistake, we would correct them, they would likely say "my bad, didn't know", edit their message or post, and both parties would move on. It becomes a different story when the person using the deadname knows and still chooses to use it rather than saying "[chosen name] (lead dev)" or any number of alternatives that make clear who they're talking about without deadnaming.
Addressing Another PointWe've received threats of losing veteran community members over this situation. If said veteran community members are unwilling to learn the problem with this behavior, I hate to seem unduly harsh, but I struggle to see what we're losing.
If they're willing to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes, they are absolutely welcome back. Admitting when you've made an error in judgment is human. Yes, it would have been more appropriate for me to DM the user who used the deadname. I made mistakes in how I handled this situation and I have to own up to that and try to be better in the future. I expect the same from other people.
ConclusionI am always willing to discuss moderation matters in DMs, regardless of how I may have reacted initially in the server. If you believe I have acted rashly towards you, do not hesitate to DM me and explain your side and your issues with my behavior. I am sure the same goes for all other staff members. I am always trying to improve myself and I hope all of you can say the same about yourselves.
This is Borb, signing off.