Home News ConU proposes plan to accept students’ preferred names

ConU proposes plan to accept students’ preferred names

by The Concordian February 28, 2012

Among the first things Ben Boudreau did when he arrived at Concordia was go to the student centre to modify his original name on his student record.
Boudreau, a transgender student, was told he couldn’t change the information without first having his name changed legally, a process which can be both lengthy and expensive. He then teamed up with the 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy and the Concordia Student Union to push for the right to use the name he identifies with, rather than the one he was born with.
On Feb. 15, Concordia issued a press release announcing that as of this fall, students would be allowed to use a preferred name on certain non-official documents such as class lists, and would also be permitted to use their legal initial rather than their full legal name on their ID cards. The proposition has been met with derision and disbelief from Boudreau, the student whose complaints brought about the university’s announcement.
He called the university’s proposal a “band-aid” solution, but said he does believe the administration is willing to effect significant change for its trans students.
“I’m angered by it, but I do think it’s great they’re doing something,” he said. “Hopefully with this information out in the public eye, it will change things.”
More specifically, Boudreau expressed concerns that with the current proposal, his name will remain unchanged on the MyConcordia portal, and the university could still end up sending letters to his home addressed to his legal name.
Until now, Ben has also had to email his professors to explain to them that the name on the class list is one he no longer identifies with. He said when professors failed to read his email, his choice at roll call was to either feign absence or be outed in class, an experience he described as horrible.
“You always have to clear out an excess amount of emotional space to see how people are going to react to it,” he said. “It hurts my chances of being seen as normal or potentially having friends throughout the rest of my degree.”
It remains unclear to Boudreau how effective the university’s new method of drafting class lists could prove to be in the classroom.
The university initially told The Concordian that the Ministry of Education requires them
to continue using the student’s legal name on official documents such as transcripts. The ministry, however, refuted this. They said while the university is required to submit information using legal names for the purposes of the ministry’s databases, the use of names on school documents is up to the university.
“When [a university] gives us the information, we really need to have their legal name,” said ministry spokesperson Esther Chouinard. “But it isn’t up to the ministry to decide
how they deal with student names within their organization.”
Other university policies, such as the use of the legal name on all official mail, and the tension which can arise during exam period when a person’s identity is checked against their ID, can negatively affect any transgender student at Concordia, explained Boudreau.
“It’s like asking someone to out their sexual orientation in order to go through school,” said Gabrielle Bouchard, the trans advocacy and peer support coordinator at the 2110 Centre. “Would we feel comfortable as a society if, to access your class, you have to say you’re gay or straight or kink? We’re asking trans students to show to the world over and over again that at one point in their lives they were stressed and unhappy [with their identity].”
Boudreau, along with members of the 2110 Centre and the CSU, plans to take the issue to Senate in the near future to advocate for more major changes to the university’s policies.

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