After substantial planning, #Kent State debuted its preferred name request application last Tuesday. This allows students to use the names they go by, rather than their legal names, for many university matters.
Available through Flashline, the form is located under the “Requests & Authorizations” tab.
“Creating an inclusive environment is part of #Kent State University’s mission statement, and we recognize that some students use a name other than their legal name to identify themselves,” the website reads.
For trans students, this form is a long time coming.
Alice Freitas, President of Transfusion, the group on Kent’s main campus for #transgender students, described the policy’s importance. She explained the trials students who are a different gender than the one listed on their birth certificates face by not having a feature like this available.
“The stress it puts on students to have to constantly come out to teachers and administration is tiresome and anxiety inducing for most,” Freitas said.
For trans students, these names aren’t just a preference – it’s who they are. Trans students’ names aren’t preferred, they are required.
Many professors and administration workers don’t ask students their names, typically going by the roster they’re given by the school. If the name on this list outs a student as trans, it can create an uncomfortable and even scary experience.
“Not to mention the stress of constantly having the cognitive dissonance of having a school that’s trying to be inclusive while also being forced to use a name that doesn’t reflect who they really are,” Freitas added.
Kent State takes strides to make all students feel welcome – from Diversity Ambassadors within certain colleges to groups like Transfusion working to build a community for trans students. This makes the lack of a preferred name policy up until now seem counterintuitive.
While this policy shows progress on names, Kent State and the state of Ohio still don’t allow trans students to correct their gender designations so easily. Due to a 1987 court case, the state of Ohio does not allow transgender individuals to correct the sex designation on their Ohio birth certificates. And correcting one’s gender marker on a state-issued ID or on Kent State student records requires jumping through a series of bureaucratic hoops, such as providing proof of a doctor or therapist’s permission.
The name form acknowledges that, while the preferred name will be used wherever possible, “there are places where the legal name will continue to be used for university business or legal needs.”
Keep in mind, this tool is not for frivolous or repeated use and must be treated with as much seriousness as any other university request form.