Preferred names on student IDs have been a hot topic on campuses recently, and it seems that the trend has crossed the border to Canada.
In British Columbia, two members of the Simon Fraser University community, in collaboration with members from the university’s Public Interest Research Group and Out on Campus – a university LGBTQ group – are campaigning to allow students to have their preferred names appear on their student ID cards.
According to The Peak, the campaign stems from concerns over the university’s current policy, which does not allow students to use their preferred names on campus IDs.
“The problem with the current lack of policy is it is one of safety, access and choice,” says Lucas Crawford, one of the campaign’s founders. “And by that I mean that it should be up to a transgender student when and if they want to disclose their transgender status to other people.”
In addition to registering for classes and paying tuition, students at Simon Fraser use their ID cards at campus libraries, bookstores and cafes. According to Crawford, these are all situations in which a transgender student might have to disclose a “really intimate piece of their past” – their old name.
Another of the policy’s proponents agrees that the risk for transgender individuals is unsafe. The use of a legal name puts a transgender individual at risk of being outed, facing violence, feeling uncomfortable, or having to explain their identity to others, he explains.
In addition to transgender individuals, the preferred name policy will also address the concerns of international students who may prefer a different name, as well as accommodate students who use names other than those on their birth certificates.
At present, the only place that a preferred name can appear publicly is on the online Student Centre and on student email.
The university requires the use of a legal name on the student ID because it can be used as a secondary piece of legal ID. Although legal name changes might offer the best solution to the problem, one of the policy’s proponents explains that many students can’t afford the process of a legal name change.
To raise awareness for the issue, an ID modification party was held where students were encouraged to laminate over their current student ID cards, replacing their “incorrect” names with their preferred names. The event was a precursor to an official meeting with the university’s registrar, associate vice president and students that will propose changes to the university’s ID policy.
Provided the official meetings go well, Crawford believes Simon Fraser University could have an effective preferred name policy in place for students arriving in fall 2015.