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See also United Front: Names Can Hurt (022) New podcast episode on other issues with naming headmates.

Advice for Singular or External Folk

Always ask what name(s) to use if you can. When in mixed company, it's usually best to default to the name either you best know them by, or that they've last publicly announced to you (such as their proper trans name rather than the name you knew them as as a child). But if you know you're going to be in a sensitive situation with someone, whether plural or transitioning, ask in advance how you should address them.

Messing up is on you, not them. Yes, it can be hard to change the name you call someone. Apologize if you mess up. Try extra hard not to mess up in front of people they're not out to. It can cause a lot of problems for them.

It can take time to learn how to swap out what you call people in varying circumstances. You might call someone Bobby over a beer, but Robert at work -- or someone might call their spouse Sue but when talking to a doctor it's Susan -- same deal here. You call your boss one thing to their face and another at the bar with your coworkers. You get the idea. It might seem like a "big deal" but we actually do it more often than one might think.

What name to use

Depending on the circumstances, it may be inappropriate, or even unsafe to use certain names. For example: If someone hasn't come "out" about their multiplicity to their family, it's not a good idea to start calling to, or talking extensively about, various members in the system by name. In other circumstances, refering to them by their legal name may make them less than comfortable. Some situations are more subtle than that, but ideally, you talk to the multiple in question, and try to get a sense of when to use which name, before you find your foot in your mouth.

Multiples, when you come out to someone, try to be explicit about how they should address you. Head off problems at the pass. If you tell a specific coworker either don't give them your system name and names of various internals, or if you do — don't expect them to use them. Try not to make these types of situations complicated or awkward. We understand how affirming it is when folk use our system name or individual names, at the same time if we don't want to be out with the world we don't give out our names and expect people to use them. Because they will, and it might be at the wrong time.

Externally, when in the company of people who don't know we are Multiple, we use the body-name as a catch-all name that refers both to the system as a whole, and to all individuals within it. We had to make a HouseRule to ensure that everyone in the system would respond to the name. For instance it would not be safe for anyone in our system to refuse to answer to the body-name at work. No-one here personally identifies with the body-name so it doesn't make anyone feel uncomfortable.


As far as I know, no one has yet come up with a useful set of pronouns in english. For example "I" can mean:

  • The entire body
  • The member of a collective talking

and "we" (or "you") is even worse:

  • The entire body (singular plural)
  • A group of people in seperate bodies
  • Any arbitary subset of a collective
  • Some arbitary subset of a collective plus others in other bodies.
  • ...

Whilst people have come up with variations on gender neutral pronouns (though "they" and "one" are perfectly acceptable english, some people seem to consider them confusing or archaic), there isn't anything helpful for plural-mind/singluar-body folk.

Individual recognition

People use several different notations to indicate who is writing.

The most common is X of Y (eg. Isabeau New of Crisses, 7 of 9, etc).

Sometimes it is written X/Y (Isabeau/Crisses) or Y/X (Crisses/Isabeau).

Using a common programming convention for namespaces, it would be Y::X (Crisses::Isabeau). (Namespaces are a method of seperating data and functions so that they don't get confused with things that have the same name but different properties).

(Someone should turn this into something more useful than the random babble above)

In my case, I'll say "Arashi with input from others" or something like that when I or they don't feel like being specific. If we're both feeling specific, we're more likely to type something along the lines of "Arashi and Ms. Channeled". --Arashi

-- MRW

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