Social media platforms have helped to create some of the most viral of internet trends that have huge, momentary impacts on our society. From silly dance routines, to a variety of challenges that range from inspiring to truly horrifying, the platform is a microcosm of our species and all of the good and bad it embodies.
What is the "His Name is Alex" trend on TikTok all about?
While it's easy to write off angsty teen problems as mere overblown bouts of drama, especially ones that are aired out on a platform such as TikTok, there are some serious issues people face. On the surface of this particular movement, it might be easy to scoff at the issue: Alex's mom took control of his social media accounts and began posting on his behalf. No big deal, right?
One may assume that a parent didn't like the fact that their kid was "wasting" all of their time online on that "darn phone" and wanted to teach them a lesson. But the nature of the relationship between Alex and his mom is what's getting folks on social media very concerned.
Alex is a transgender boy who was assigned female at birth and his mother is urging everyone to call him by the name she gave him. Many are calling this a case of "deadnaming."
This phenomenon is viewed as extremely harmful by members of the trans community and those who identify and support trans issues: it "erases" the new identity that the trans individual has embraced. So, calling a person who has transitioned by their past name is perceived as extremely offensive and harmful.
Alex's mother, Tasha, commandeered his social media accounts and began uploading posts herself encouraging Alex's followers to call him by his "original" name, and in several of his videos, Tasha refers to Alex as "she."
“You will address her as [name given at birth], or you will not address her at all. If you cannot follow her mother’s instructions, you will be removed out of her life," Tasha says in one of the posts she uploaded to Alex's account.
Friends of Alex have started a petition and a TikTok hashtag to raise awareness of his situation.
The #HisNameisAlex hashtag has been gaining traction on the platform with many people calling out the harmful treatment Alex is enduring at the hands of his mother. Gabby Jackson managed to secure over 150,000 signatures for the petition she launched to get more eyes on the "abusive behavior" that Tasha was subjecting her child to.
What's more is that the petition culminated in Tasha's employer, Hungry Bear restaurant located in Murfreesboro, Tenn., firing her from her job and posting pro-pride imagery on its page as well as calls for a replacement line cook at their location. They even spoke to the issue on their Facebook page and were met with an outcry of support from people all over the country for their actions.
"Regarding the recent actions of one of our (now terminated) former employees: We heard and responded to the concerns. Their actions never had our support, we definitely wouldn't condone that behavior, and not sure why anyone would think that we would. Once it was reported to us we took action. We have done everything we can in this situation and now we just hope and pray that we can remain open."
They continued, "These are already troubled times for restaurants and small businesses. The negative reviews, because of someone outside of our business, are damaging our reputation and ability to operate. We hope for the continued support of the local community, and to not lose our new business."
Another Change.org petition page highlighting Alex's treatment has provided updates on the situation, too: Child Protective Services is now involved and Alex is reportedly safe.