Starting June 16, UCSB will take the first step toward transgender inclusivity by using only preferred student names in all campus services. This means that student IDs — Access cards — class rosters, and faculty interactions with students will change according to the student’s preferred name.
For two years, the university has been working with different systems, databases, and feeds that use and store student names. Due to the distribution of the system’s services, coordinating this transition has been a huge task for the school. The new system goes live before summer classes begin.
After spring quarter grades are finalized, the Registrar’s Office will work alongside the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD) to implement the updated system. Although some departments are required to have both the legal and preferred name of each student on file, only the student’s preferred name will be used when addressing them on campus. This new system will allow students to change their first name only but require legal documentation when changing a last name.
The RCSGD currently works with students, faculty, and staff to make sure that all LGBTQ identities are being represented at UCSB. The center acts as an inclusive environment offering students volunteer and leadership opportunities while giving them a supportive social and educational environment.
Celestino Jones, a second-year music composition major and transgender student, may now purchase a new Access card with his preferred name without having to legally change his documentation. “It’s a very rough patch of time telling everyone what your new name and pronouns are and why they’re that way,” Celestino told The Daily Nexus. “It can alleviate a lot of stress, I suppose, if the name that you prefer is the name that everyone calls you by.”
Jones, who chairs the RCSGD’s Trans*Task Force, believes that this new implementation will benefit many other students around campus. He describes the process of roll call at the beginning of each quarter as being a stressful time in which he would have to wait until the end of class to correct the professor on his name.
“This initiative began in support of transgender students, in order to protect them from being outed in the classroom, but in truth, we have many students whose identities differ from their legal names,” said University Registrar Leesa Beck, who describes the feedback from students as “overwhelmingly positive.” “Often international students, for instance, adopt Americanized names, and of course many students go by middle names or nicknames, so this change should benefit a broad population.”
The change marks one of many steps on the way to transgender inclusivity. Although UCSB will transition to the use of students’ preferred first names, they do not currently have the mechanism for displaying pronouns in their system, which means that students’ preferred pronouns are not part of the current project underway.