New policy will allow transgender students to list their preferred name on University records

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Music Studies sophomore Joey Ovalle, who identifies as trans man, changed his name on the UT records to differ from his legal name. This summer UT will begin promoting this policy, which allows transgender students to use a preferred name on official documents, such as class records and medical documents.

Photo Credit: Shannon Kintner | Daily Texan Staff

For some students, roll call in a classroom is exactly what it sounds like — the reading of a name. However, for transgender students who identify by a different name than the one listed, roll call can open the door to being outed to classmates.

The University will promote a new policy this summer to allow transgender students to list their preferred names on University records, a name that may be different from their legal name. Under this policy, a student’s preferred name will appear on class rosters, identification cards, medical files and other UT records. While transgender students were first allowed to use a preferred name on their official documents beginning last fall, this new policy will also update the preferred name to their medical records. Patrick White, a student member of the LGBT presidential task force, said the task force plans to inform transgender students about the policy through orientation this summer and programs next fall.

This policy was initiated by the LGBT presidential task force, a committee of faculty and students who advocate for LGBT rights on campus. Transgender students were first allowed to change the name appearing on their records in September 2011, but had to personally request the change at the UT Gender and Sexuality Center.

Music studies sophomore Joey Ovalle identifies as a trans man and was approved for a preferred name last fall. Ovalle said when he first came out as transgender he asked all his friends to call him “Joey.” Ovalle said while he had never had a professor call him by the wrong first name because of the change, he did have a professor mention his middle name, which was a feminine name, because the preferred name policy did not apply to middle names at the time. Ovalle said he also faced problems buying football tickets because his preferred name did not match the one on his credit card.

Ovalle said he felt outed when people would call him by his birth name instead of his preferred name.

“It’s not necessarily being outed by it that bothered me,” Ovalle said. “It’s the questions and the explanations that people feel entitled to after that which can be difficult to deal with.”

While only students who request the change through the center will have their name changed on class rosters and other official records, all students will be able to take advantage of the UHS policy and use a preferred name on their medical records. However, preferred names cannot go on an official University diploma or transcript.

According to the center’s website, preferred name changes are granted after the student has a conversation with a staff member who determines that the use of the name would facilitate a student’s success at UT. The preferred name appears on class rosters, the private Texas Enterprise Directory, clips class information pages, Blackboard and official UT identification cards.

Ixchel Rosal, Gender and Sexuality Center director, said about five students have updated their records using the preferred name policy since it launched last fall. Rosal said she does not ask if studens are transgender when she meets with them about their request but that most students who requested it were. Rosal said all the feedback from students who were approved for a preferred was positive.

Jeffrey Graves, associate vice president for legal affairs, said UT considered many factors before approving the policy. Graves said preferred names cannot go on diplomas or transcripts without a legal name change.

He said one of the legal issues UT faced was putting preferred names on UT ID cards.

In cases such as police stops or when asked to surrender an ID card, Graves said, UT officials need to be able to confirm a student’s official name with the name on record with the University regardless of their preferred name. To address this, a student’s preferred name goes on the front of the ID card and the official name goes on the back.

“The whole point of the policy is to assist transgender students in transitioning to the University in a way that will correspond with how they live and how they identify,” Graves said.

White said the task force addresses many policy issues affecting the LGBT community by breaking down barriers and promoting a climate of inclusion and togetherness. White said the committee tries to address big and small things in the UT community that would make a difference.

For instance, White said the addition of many family and gender-neutral bathrooms on campus last year not only benefited people who identify as transgender, but also people with disabilities, people with a medical condition who need a private place to administer medication and people with small children.

“It’s not about acknowleding an accomplishment,” White said. “It’s the fact that we were able to put a different lens on something that should be there for all our students.”

Printed on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 as: Students may now list preferred name on records