What’s in a (trans) name

Silas Day, Staff Writer

My final semester at Madison College has begun. Not only my last semester as a student here at this school, but my first semester as a transgender student. I started my physical transition from female to male May 2014. Prior to the first day of class I had written to my professors explaining my gender pronoun preferences and about my (not-yet-legal) name change. I received little to no difficulties and breathed a sigh of relief for the upcoming semester.

The semester is off to a great start. Living day to day, with my chosen name and gender identity in tact. Madison College has allowed me to adjust easily into my transition and experience life as the person I am choosing to be. Unfortunately, sometimes being trans involves (for lack of better words) a bit of “trickery.” Passing, or being perceived as the gender you identify as, isn’t meant to be deceiving. Passing on a daily basis, which I now am able to do, has been the most empowering part of my transition. Walking into school I am not just transgender and on display, I am free to be myself and let that part of me take a backseat for a change.

The transgender community is receiving some much-needed attention when it comes to equality, affordable care, and especially safety concerns. Even here in Madison College, people are starting to take a stand for the LGB/Trans community. Gender-neutral bathrooms are a huge addition for any college campus in order to show your students you care about their safety and comfort. As Tannen Todd, student senator states, “gender-neutral bathrooms are not only the fair thing to do, but the right thing to do”.

While all-gender bathrooms may be a necessity, what about the other daily struggles that transgender and non-gender conforming students face on campus? At Madison College the current administration is set up so that only a legally granted name change will allow students to have their chosen name changed on file and in the eyes of the college. This is cause for concern for transgender students living everyday with a name that is not on their birth certificate.

A legal name change petition in Wisconsin is timely, expensive, and sometimes dangerous. There are hundreds of dollars in fees (mostly to simply file paperwork), court appearances, having your personal information published in the newspaper, and leaving many transgender individuals exposed to discrimination throughout this legal process.

Transgender students with no legal name/sex change are forced to have their birth name and sometimes gender displayed on their student ID cards and for Madison College, all over Blackboard.

Legalities and identification are necessary in an academic setting, but can’t something be done to ensure that transgender individuals can exist in academia without a constant fear of being outted or, from personal experience, being called by their birth name in front of a line of students in the cafeteria.

Shouldn’t students be able to have their chosen names on their student IDs and especially on Blackboard where the entire class can see their name and student email? To administration this sounds like a nightmare but what if a simple note on file could potentially solve this daily nightmare for students?

I believe that the incredibly diverse and intelligent student body and staff of Madison College can put their heads together to achieve equality, safety, and compassion for everyone here.