Good news for transgender and non-binary students recently came out of Mouton, as new policies surrounding student names make headway. Assistant Director of Students Affairs Jeremy Hadley and Executive Director of Student Affairs and Operations Melissa Rudd have proposed new policies to allow students to use names other than their birth names on certain school documents such as student IDs, emails and class rosters.
Birth names are a widespread issue for transgender and non-binary people, who often choose new names after coming out. Student IDs have been an ongoing concern for transgender and non-binary students who, up until now, have had to have their birth names used on their required campus IDs—a situation that can cause significant anxiety and gender-dysphoria.
Various students have already witnessed some of these changes, as Hadley has been offering name changes on IDs for the past week or so. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s something that’s important to me because I just feel that students should be able to be referred to and identified by their preferred name,” Hadley says. “While I’m not transgender, I’m very empathetic toward people who are and I feel it’s very important for them to feel safe and… accepted on the campus.” These issues were on the forefront of Hadley’s mind as he moved from Financial Aid over to Student Life. That’s why when Photography major Rian George came into his office after losing his ID, he went ahead and changed the name for the student.
“I didn’t even have to ask,” says George, who was impressed by Hadley’s initiative. “He just did it for me.”
When Otto Yunker, a non binary student who uses the pronouns “they” and “them”, received their new student ID they were relieved. “I don’t have anything else with my name on it… so seeing that was really cool,” says Yunker and continued that normally they have to “carve my name into anything for it to be there.” Now, at least with their student ID, no carving is necessary.
Jessica Oliver also was able to get her ID changed and was surprised by how quick the process was. “It took maybe five minutes,” she says, which is remarkable compared to the months to years of work it takes to legally change one’s name. Transgender and non-binary citizens frequently have to spend hundreds of dollars to acquire a name change.
“In Texas it costs $230 to change your name. The court has to approve it and then a judge has to approve it,” says George who has recently been giving seminars during classes and club meetings on being Transgender. Name changes are a long 13 step process. “And that doesn’t include your birth certificate,” George adds.
Changing one’s ID with Hadley is much different. “Right now it’s a manual process,” he says. If a student asks for a name change on one’s ID, Hadley goes into the system and temporarily changes the name in the system. He then prints out the ID and changes the name back. Until his and Rudd’s policies come into official effect, this “grass roots” method is how he is allowing students to feel comfortable wearing their required IDs around campus.
Hadley is excited for his new proposed policies to be put into place soon. “Right now it’s a programming issue,” he says. Because all of the systems in Mouton are connected, it’s been difficult to have this change occur. “Legally we have to have student’s birth names on their financial aid information. That’s the only place it has to appear,” he explains. However, because attendance factors into financial aid, the rosters haven’t been able to be changed. Moving forward, Hadley wants there to be a specific area in the system for students’ “preferred” names. This would allow for class attendance sheets, email addresses, housing documentation and more to have the right name.
Upon learning this news, Digital Arts major Carter Bazar was ecstatic. “That would be amazing!” he rejoiced. With any luck, these policies will be in place soon.