IU Bloomington's transgender students can now use preferred names on university ID cards

  • Dec. 10, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Starting this week, students at Indiana University Bloomington can apply to use a preferred name, rather than a legal name, on their university identification cards. IU’s campus ID cards are swiped or shown at campus dining halls and libraries, on buses, at workout facilities, at the Health Center and in some classes, among other places on campus.

This change is an effort to support transgender students who go by a different name from their legal name and was ultimately advanced by a resolution from the IU Student Association, the Graduate and Professional Student Organization and the Residence Halls Association.

Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel expressed gratitude to the students who showed their support for transgender students through this resolution.

“All of our students should feel at home on this campus,” Robel said. “It is powerful and inspirational to see this change arise from students who want to create a welcoming, inclusive environment for their classmates.”

Barry W. Magee, assistant director of residential life and diversity education at IU’s Residential Programs and Services, said the new ID option goes far beyond a name on a card.

“It’s more than just, ‘I prefer to go as James as opposed to Jen’; there’s a much deeper identity transgender students are crafting for themselves that is so intrinsic to who they are,” Magee said.

The preferred name option is also available to other students who make valid, approved name change requests -- for example, international students who wish to go by an Anglicized name, or students who go by initials or a middle name.

Over the weekend, staff at University Information Technology Services implemented an upgrade to IU’s Student Information System software, which enables the use of preferred names in many systems that could not previously use them.

Students who already have a preferred name in IU’s central database can go to card services this week to purchase a new card. Those with a legal name in IU’s database who wish to update to a preferred name must enter the new information, wait 24 hours and then go to a card services location on campus for the new ID.

The ID card option is another tangible step toward creating a welcoming campus. For the past nine years, IU’s Residence Hall Association housing applications have included a transgender category. Magee personally contacts each student who applies identifying as transgender before making room assignments.

“We want to ensure a supportive living environment,” he said. “Some students request a private bathroom, some are fine with being randomly assigned … each person has different needs.”

For Ethan Jackson, now a senior in the Kelley School of Business, the name on his ID card will finally match the name he’s been using and identifying with for years, including on class rosters and other university systems such as OnCourse. An Indiana native, Jackson -- whose legal name change becomes official this week -- said he chose IU because its residence halls included gender identity as a protected category.

“The atmosphere at IU has always been really open and understanding, and Bloomington is a great place to live,” Jackson said, adding that the switch to preferred names on ID cards will eliminate the potential for misunderstandings.

Jackson and Magee are members of IU Bloomington’s Transgender Advocacy Group, a staff and student organization focused on transgender issues on campus.

“When we started talking about this about three years ago, we realized that in addition to IT systems across the board, ID cards were a big part of the puzzle,” Jackson said, adding that having the support of IU student groups and administration helped make the card change happen. “For trans students, having a university ID card with the name they go by makes such a huge difference for them feeling like part of the community.”

Details are being finalized so faculty and staff may also request a preferred name on university ID cards, a process likely to be completed by the spring semester. The standard price for switching out or replacing an ID apply: The cost for students, faculty and staff swapping a current card for a preferred name card will be $9, while replacements for lost or missing cards will cost $25.

Magee said the new ID card option adds another layer of support for students while demonstrating IU’s inclusiveness to new and prospective students.

“For students coming into IU through freshman orientation, this is a huge signal that the university cares about you as an individual,” Magee said. “We respect you enough to use the name you prefer. To me, this is a benefit for everybody.”

More information about the procedure for changing preferred names on ID cards can be found online.

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