Campus, News

Transgender issues of legal names to be resolved in guideline allowing preferred names.

Safety and comfort for students is a goal of many schools, but many times it is difficult for schools to provide that for every community and population of students on campus.

 

For students in the transgender community, safety is a national issue that is still being dissected among different schools, but a lot of comfort starts for students who are able to use their preferred name as opposed to their legal one that they no longer identify with. However, there are many schools who have yet to implement policies regarding preferred names on identities on campus.

 

Enter California State University, Long Beach, which has recently established guidelines that will allow students who identify with a different name to soon be able to use that one instead of their birth name at school.

 

“It’s always been an issue with students who don’t identify with the name listed on their birth certificate, so this came out of students who don’t feel comfortable when their legal name is called in class, and if you’re a transgender or genderqueer student, it can be triggering,” said Logan Vournas, a third year ASI Senator-at-Large at CSULB.

 

While the school’s name change won’t affect the status of or change their legal name, it will allow students to go by their preferred names in class, on their ID cards, on MyCSULB and Beachboard.

 

The name change guideline is applicable to all students regardless of orientation, sexuality, gender, etc. and may also be especially utilized by international students who don’t feel comfortable using their birth name in America. But, the focus remains on transgender students who will be affected by this new guideline.

 

“Being called the name I don’t identify with makes me feel super uncomfortable and disassociated, but being called the name I identify with makes me feel safe,” said Gigi Plum, a 16-year-old former student who had dropped out of school but hopes to attend CSULB in the future. “It makes me feel like they care and they respect me.

 

For clarity, with the ideas of gender nonconformity and gender fluidity, names no longer hold correlation to gender. In Gigi’s case, he identifies as a male with his preferred name, Gigi, and his name holds no adhesion to a gender. In many cases, when an identified name is misused or disrespected, the person is made to feel uncomfortable.

A national survey by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network has found that 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school, which could cause, as in Gigi’s case, a student to drop out early.

 

It is a common occurrence that transgender students are ‘outed’ by peers and teachers when their legal names are called out during class or in passing, which can cause stress and anxiety for many students. If a student feels comfortable enough to clarify their preferred name in class, they still have to do it on a consistent basis which can often result in these students constantly outing themselves to those around them.

 

With this new guideline, it is hoped that this stress will dissolve.

 

“It feels validating,” said an undeclared freshman at CSULB who has not yet made their gender transition public. “There’s no more anxiety to have to tell the professor before, or after or during class. Having that [the guideline] there would be a lot easier and save so much stress.”
While the federal Title IX law bans sex discrimination in schools, it is still common for transgender students to be harassed by their peers.

 

Calling a student by their legal name rather than their preferred name can be seen as a type of harassment if Title IX representatives deem it so, regardless of who is using it. With CSULB’s new preferred name provisions, the chance of being called out by one’s legal name is minimized and will, as hoped by the community, increase comfort and safety for transgender students on campus.

 

 

 

 

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