5 things we love about the True Name® feature
Niko Stratis
Niko Stratis

To celebrate Pride Month, global technology payments company Mastercard has expanded a card feature that helps solve a very real problem worldwide: True Name® empowers trans and non-binary people to display their preferred names (rather than deadnames) on credit, debit, and prepaid cards without the requirement of a legal name change.

Mastercard has taken a major step forward in expanding True Name globally with leading payments fintech Global Payments, as well as additional partners across Europe and North America to help ensure cardholders worldwide can leverage their chosen name on their Mastercard cards and embrace who they truly are.

This revolutionary feature is but one aspect of the company’s overarching commitment to inclusion, earning it a 100 percent rating on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index in 2021.

Trans writer Niko Stratis (pictured, right) celebrates the initiative (and company) with examples drawn from everyday life.

1. I no longer have to be reminded of who I’m not whenever I use my card

When we can’t have our proper name printed on something as simple as a debit card, it creates a constant reminder of a life that’s inauthentic. We want to be able to live as freely as everyone else—and avoid unnecessarily painful reminders of a life that isn’t ours. Something as simple as using your card at the checkout might seem easy to you, but it’s a source of constant stress and anxiety for transgender and non-binary people. With Mastercard’s True Name, that anxiety vanishes, leaving the confidence of feeling comfortable using a card that reflects the real you.

2. It empowers me to feel free to be who I am in all areas of my life, even in the checkout line

With the True Name card feature, I don’t have to worry about what I look like, how I dress, talk or move when I’m leaving the house to meet a friend for coffee, or buying groceries, the simple pleasures of everyday life. Knowing the name on my card accurately reflects my presentation to the world means I’m free to let that presentation be what I chose, and not what an old name on a card tells the world I should be.

Too often, trans people present their card only to have it checked, double-checked, and questioned.

When my card held onto my dead name, the cashier would look at the name on the card and then stare at me for a second, as if trying to decode the layers of deception I was trying to hide behind. I was just trying to buy groceries, or a nice coffee to treat myself. But was my card telling a lie?

Is this really you? is the all-too-common refrain when we’re just trying to do our daily little tasks. Some of us even hide who we are if we know we’ll be using our credit or bank card in public, choosing the shame of hiding our authentic selves over the fear and humiliation of being outed by the cashier. This is not a choice anyone should have to make and True Name means we don’t have to.

3. It means if I ever have an issue I don’t have to worry about calling customer service

When you choose a name, you use a name.

But when you have to call into customer service and say, Hi my name is ____ and the response is I’m sorry, we don’t have a customer by that name, do you mean deadname you feel like a liar even though you are really finally being honest. It’s a humiliating thing to have to choose between denying yourself and lying to yourself.

Calling customer service with issues when your legal name and your real name don’t line up is stressful. Oftentimes, we avoid doing it entirely to avoid the shame attached to feeling othered. With True Name, I know that my identity will be respected. Dealing with financial matters is stressful enough, the added layer of having to suffer the stings of deadnames on the phone is too much. You just want to know that when you call, you will be treated with the care and respect everyone deserves.

4. It lets you use your real name while you wait to process paperwork

I knew my name well before the courts recognized it. But every time I needed to pay for something it was like living a lie, chipping a little piece of me away because I didn’t have the legal paperwork to make the name on my card line up with the name I was using. Ordering something online to pick up at the store under your name, only to show up and have to say, I know the order says ___ but the card says deadname is a dance of shame you have to do for anywhere from a few months to a few years.

Filing paperwork for your legal name change can be a long, daunting and expensive process. It can take years to complete and creates a life void where you’re not able to have the documents you use the most in the world have the name you’ve chosen for yourself on them. Mastercard’s True Name feature means that you can display your preferred name without the requirement of a legal name change. Even if you’re unsure if this is the name you’re going to keep, you can still use the name that’s right for you. It’s about owning who you are and not letting red tape get in the way of who you are and living your life authentically.

5. It tells me that companies are committed to inclusion beyond simply checking a box

Too often, companies tell you they see you and they stand with you, but they don’t do anything to show you that they consider you worth their investment. True Name is not just words.

The True Name card feature shows that sometimes it just takes a little respect to make a world of difference.

Watch the True Name video:

Niko Stratis is a writer living in Toronto. Her work focuses on trans rights and cultural issues. She is a Cancer.