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Email changes for transgender students

Email changes for transgender students

Email changes for transgender students
January 25
14:06 2019

The UNT Pride Alliance is in the process of updating and simplifying the method transgender students must go through to change their email name to their preferred name, according to a Pride Alliance employee.

“The process itself is way ahead of so many universities where you can’t update your name at all,” said Alex Sylvester, the Pride Alliance’s student services coordinator. 

Without obtaining a legal name change, any student can go to the Office of the Registrar to change their names on class rosters, Canvas and the Student Center on MyUNT. Sylvester said the process is much more complicated when it comes to changing an email address.

Graphic by Jordan Collard.

“Before I started working here, if you did a preferred name change, your display name would update, but your email would stay the same, so you might have a preferred name in the system of Rick Johnson, but your email address would still be laurenjohnson@my.unt.edu and there was no way to change that,” Sylvester said. “If a student goes to the registrar, does a name request, they don’t necessarily get their email updated.”

Instead of going through the registrar, students must contact the Pride Alliance, which works with the University Information Technology, to change their email. The university follows an email address format of first and last name.

“I cannot give a definite answer as to why the format is the way it is, but I assume it provides some simplicity if everyone’s student email address follows the same format,” UIT Help Desk technician Chima Akanno said in an email.

Sylvester said that having a name that does not match a transgender student’s preferred name can have serious consequences.

“Being called something that a student formerly used instead of their current name leads to depression, anxiety, a sense of not belonging and can be a contributing factor to larger negative experiences,” Sylvester said. 

Gavin Holland, who is a transgender biology freshman at Sam Houston State University with plans to transfer to UNT this fall, said he was initially confused and felt hopeless when he went to online resources to figure out how to change his email address.

“I called and emailed the registrar’s office and the first email I got was telling me I couldn’t make an alias because I wasn’t a faculty member,” Holland said. “I thought I have to get my [legal] name change because it’d be very upsetting when I assign myself and tell people and professors my name is Gavin on the class roster, but when I email them I’ll be outed as transgender because my email will be my birth name.”

Holland said after he explained how uncomfortable he would feel and how complicated it could be for his birth name to be in his email address, “they were able to change it.”

Along with submitting a preferred name change request, students can also submit a legal name change request, which requires legal documentation. Sylvester said they believe this often causes miscommunication between registrar staff and transgender students.

“I think sometimes during the process of staff figuring out what students are asking for, students end up having to disclose before the staff understands they want the preferred name change over the legal name change,” Sylvester said. 

Holland said he believes having to call and email multiple offices might discourage transgender students looking to come to the university.

“It’s important to document online because when anyone is looking into a college, their main thing isn’t to have to call admissions—they look at the website,” Holland said. “You need to write all that down on an LGBT specific page that says there’s a form to create an alias and change your name on class rosters.”

Students seeking a preferred name change request and email address change can contact the Pride Alliance or visit them in Union room 372 to pick up materials detailing how to change their name on campus.

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Brooke Colombo

Brooke Colombo

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