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Preferred name policy expected to pass in Senate

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With a new policy, no longer will transgender students at Ohio University fear being unintentionally “outed” by professors.

Student Senate LGBT Affairs Commissioner Hannah Dunn introduced the preferred name policy to Student Senate last Wednesday, painting the picture of the transgender or gender variant student whose birth-given name is called during roll call in class and “outs” them to their peers.

The preferred name policy, which Student Senate will vote on tomorrow in a resolution, would “give students the option to have a name other than their legal name on university documents,” such as Blackboard, My OHIO, class rosters and student ID cards, according to Dunn.

As an advocate for the LGBT community in Senate, Dunn explained that the policy is mainly geared toward transgender and gender variant persons, or those “who may not necessarily go by the name they were given at birth” because transgender people “don’t necessarily identify with the gender [they] were assigned at birth.”

Although Ohio University was rated top-notch—4.5 out of five stars—in LGBT-friendliness by campusprideindex.org, there is currently no way to change one’s name and gender identity on university documents.

The preferred name policy and the Senate resolution that endorses it aim to change that.

Evan Ecos, Senate treasurer, said he expects the resolution to pass, “and I think [after the resolution is passed] it’s Senate’s role to act as a liaison between various communities on campus and the university” to implement the preferred name policy.

After bringing the policy to the attention of administrators two months ago, Dunn said the policy has received nothing but positive feedback.

Not only will the policy prove beneficial to transgender students, but also to international students who choose a more Anglicized name upon coming to the U.S. and to students who are called by their middle name or a nickname.

“It sounds to me like [the policy is] just something that makes sense to happen,” said Ana Schmitt, a student who identifies as transgender. “Oftentimes the name given to you at birth is not always the best name for you. A lot of cultures assign you a name later on in life after something is done by the individual to warrant the name.”

Despite this outpouring of ideological support, there are still hurdles to overcome.

“I think the biggest part is figuring out the logistics…[like] putting a system into place,” Dunn said.

Creating a system that allows students to specify a preferred name on certain university documents will require collaboration between the Division of Student Affairs, the LGBT Center, Student Senate, the Registrar and the Office of Information Technology (OIT), said Ecos.

According to Taylor Hufford, the Student Senate LGBT Affairs Vice Commissioner, much of what remains to be sorted out are the “smaller details,” such as whether to display the preferred name on the front or on the back of student ID cards and whether to add “Other” or “Transgender” to the list of gender options in addition to “Male” and “Female.”

Dunn expressed hope that the preferred name policy would see implementation in spring semester of 2014.

“I think the most important part of this policy is being able to say to students that the university stands behind them and whomever they choose to be and affirms their identities as who they choose to be,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

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